I won’t put as much intro or pictures into this 5 Questions in the interests of getting it published before the game. Thanks to Kyle Barber of Baltimore Beatdown for taking time in his very busy week to get us some answers.
1) What’s your scouting report on Lamar Jackson and his strengths and weaknesses? Is he continuing to progress and develop and are defenses figuring out how to contain him?
Jackson’s only weakness is playcalling and dropped passes. I sound overzealous and biased but there’s a reason for his unanimous MVP award of 2019. He’s a dominant force in the running and passing game. The greatest failure has been a bizarro-world Greg Roman who ceases his normal playcalling when down on the scoreboard. He’s capable of just about any throw and his running ability is second to no quarterback in history. It’s tough to believe after the shellacking against the Kansas City Chiefs but that game felt like another panic-induced failure from the coaching staff more than Jackson. He is for sure continuing his development and outside of a few games here and there, I don’t expect his “containment” to be a common occurrence.
2) WR has been a concern in Baltimore for years. How well has that problem been addressed by the new talent at the position (especially Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin)? Is there anything you think the front office should be doing differently when it comes to acquiring WRs?
Until this team can boast three starting wide receivers, I will complain. In team history, there has only been two capable starters on a roster. This season is no different. They sport one receiver with brilliant upside yet the potential has not become production. Hollywood Brown is a bolt of lightning but has yet to set the field on fire this season. Boykin has done well with his opportunities but overall has been adequate. Mark Andrews is the best receiving threat and unfortunately lost his ability to catch on Monday. This team doesn’t have the horses to run with the likes of Kansas City and that will be a criticism until proven otherwise.
That being said, there is more potential on this roster than in previous years. Devin Duvernay is expected to increase his role with the team. I believe the team has done something different in drafting capable pass-catchers. In Ozzie’s late years with the team, he drafted high-upside playmakers with poor hands. Jordan Lasley and Breshad Perriman being two notable names. Both were high-end burners with physical traits who suffered from poor catching ability. The most important trait from a receiver. . . Now, they’re finding better receivers and making the whole “catching the ball” thing a priority.
3) The Ravens are currently 0-5 under Lamar Jackson when facing a 10-point deficit. What do you think accounts for that record?
A lot of teams struggle when down by 10. I’m surprised this is such a narrative. It’s also due to getting walloped by the best team in the NFL and it’s hard to come back from being down 10 against the Chiefs. It’s a team issue, not a Jackson issue. I previously mentioned the playcalling when down. When down, the Ravens abandon their greatest strength (running), and attempt to throw their way out of anything, even when they are rushing above five yards per carry. Also, when they’re down it’s typically a culmination of issues, such as Mark Andrews and Hollywood Brown dropping passes. It’s not a Jackson issue so much as a team issue. This team is not built to go through the air with a lack of receiving weapons.
4) The battle in the trenches will probably be critical in this matchup. Who are Baltimore’s starters on the OL and DL and where do the strengths and weaknesses of those units lie?
LT - Ronnie Stanley (2019 First-Team All-Pro)
LG - Bradley Bozeman
C - Matt Skura
RG - Tyre Phillips (R)
RT - Orlando Brown Jr. (2019 Pro Bowl)
The retirement of Marshal Yanda has been felt. The team is not bulldozing through the right side gaps nearly as frequently and Brown Jr.’s blocking has taken a minor step back. Tyre Phillips, the rookie, has done a solid job but obviously the tall task of replacing Yanda is nigh-insurmountable.
The strengths include the tackles, though both are not as prolific as last season. Stanley’s been battling injury while Zeus Jr. is dealing with a bit of growing pains due to Yanda’s absence.
Weaknesses are the interior line. It’s just not as solid as a year before and even then, got away with a lot due to the athleticism of Jackson and Co. This year is no different.
5) If you were gameplanning to stop the Ravens, what would be your strategy on offense and defense?
Sell out on the run and doubling Mark Andrews. He’s the main receiving threat and targeting those two things are the biggest ways to cause fits for Baltimore. Jackson can do a lot of damage rather quickly but if you can catch them off guard and force a punt early, it throws off momentum.
Offensively, attack the middle of the field. The Ravens linebackers are young and there’s not much else to attack. They boast two 2019 All-Pro cornerbacks and a few of the biggest defensive linemen in football. Short throws and screens have been the only ways to find success if your last name isn’t Mahomes.
As of right now, Vegas has Baltimore as 14 point favorites over Washington. How would you bet?
This poll is closed
Baltimore wins by 14 or more points
Baltimore wins by fewer than 14 points
Washington wins outright
As of now, Vegas has the over/under for this game at 45 points. Which would you bet?
This poll is closed
45 or more total points are scored (both sides combined)
Fewer than 45 total points are scored (both sides combined)