Tue, 27 Oct 2020

News & Notes: Ravens Winning, But Looking to Hit Offensive Stride

Baltimore Ravens
16 Oct 2020, 22:25 GMT+10

Clifton Brown

The Ravens rank 24th in the NFL in total offense, averaging 339.6 yards per game. That leaves them plenty of room to improve heading into Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Most of the scrutiny is being directed at Baltimore's passing attack, which ranks 31st in the league (178.8 yards per game) ahead of only the New York Jets (176.0 yards per game). Most of Lamar Jackson's 86 completions have come either to Marquise Brown (22 catches, 319 yards, one touchdown) or tight end Mark Andrews (18 catches, 222 yards, five touchdowns). Nobody else has more than 10 catches, but Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said the distribution will improve if the execution does.

"Whether you're throwing to tight ends, receivers, backs, the focus is execution," Roman said. "At times, we're doing a really nice job. We've just got to work on our consistency. I think everything in our offense is a work in progress. Guys are working hard."

While Brown and Andrews are both excellent receivers, Roman does not want Jackson to force throws if other players are open.

"There's plays he executes perfectly and there's some plays he'd like to have back," Roman said. "We want to throw the ball to the open guy, and that could be anybody. At times, we're really doing a good job of that, and at times we're maybe getting a little greedy. We want to really put pressure on the defense and throw it to the open guy as much as possible."

There are several candidates to emerge as a consistent third option in the passing game including Willie Snead IV (10 catches, 117 yards, one touchdown), Miles Boykin (10 catches, 111 yards) and Devin Duvernay (seven catches, 59 yards). Roman believes in Boykin's ability as a receiver and does not think his contributions should be measured by stats alone.

"I think Miles is doing a good job in a lot of phases," Roman said. "I think he's been really unheralded as a blocker. I feel like he's coming into his own as a dominant blocker, doing a lot of the dirty work that nobody really notices. There's definitely room for him to be more involved. We're certainly encouraged by how he's practicing every day. As a receiver you can't control what's thrown to you, but you can control getting open, running the right route. He's working hard at that and we have high expectations for him."

Late Field Goal by Bengals Irked Martindale

The Ravens wanted a shutout against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 5 and played well enough defensively to earn one. However, trailing 27-0 with 37 seconds left to play, Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor sent his field goal unit out to kick a 38-yarder that spoiled the shutout, which would have been Baltimore's first since 2018.

Martindale was obviously miffed on the sidelines Sunday about the decision to kick the field goal so late in the game, with the Bengals hopelessly behind. Having had four days to think about it, Martindale still didn't like it on Thursday when asked for his reaction.

"He (Taylor) knew what it was, because it was awful quiet when I yelled it across the field," Martindale said. "There's some people that take that as a victory. We'll see. We got plenty to talk about next time we play them."

Ravens Blitzers Will Face Chess Match Against Eagles Center Jason Kelce

Opponents know how much the Ravens love to blitz, and their pass rush was devastating against the Bengals with seven sacks, including five sacks by defensive backs. Baltimore will send extra pass rushers against any opponent, but Martindale indicated that All-Pro center Jason Kelce will make blitzing against the Eagles more challenging. Kelce is a master at anticipating when opponents will blitz, and he will react by changing blocking schemes at the line of scrimmage to better protect quarterback Carson Wentz.

"That whole offense starts with Jason Kelce," Martindale said. "He's the Tom Brady, Peyton Manning if you will, of centers in this league. He's playing at a very high level. Just like the city of Philly, he's a blue-collar guy. The thing that stands out is just how smart he is. Getting them in the right protections. He studies defenses just like we study offenses from a coach's perspective. It's really hard to get them in the right protections when you're running the different kinds of pressures, because he's so good at doing it."

Jaylon Ferguson Is Dead Set on Setting the Edge

Outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson entered the league last year with elite credentials as a pass rusher. That's what you expect from a guy nicknamed "Sack Daddy", who was the all-time FBS sack leader at Louisiana Tech with 45 sacks, breaking the previous FBS sack record (44) held by former Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs.

However, Baltimore's defensive scheme demands that outside linebackers contain the run, and Ferguson has worked hard to be more than just a pass-rushing specialist, and he has improved his run defense in his second season.

"I think it's a little bit of everything," said Ferguson, who has 10 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. "It's technique. At the same time you've got to be strong, you've got to be determined to hold that edge. Just like I'm determined to hold my edge and I've been working on my technique all week, that O-tackle's been working his tail off all week. He knows my game. I've been studying him. At the end of the day, it's all about who wants it more. I just feel most of the time, I'm going to want it more. Because I want to play. I want to rush on third down, earn my right to rush."

Stopping the run will be on Ferguson's mind Sunday when facing Eagles running back Miles Sanders, who has rushed for at least 80 yards in three of his four games this season.

"Respect to Miles Sanders and his game, because he's downhill," Ferguson said. "He's not afraid of contact and he's good at contact, he'll spin, he'll jab, or he might just run through you."

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