Eisenberg: 50 Words or Less


Various thoughts on various things, all in 50 words or less:

Chuck Clark ended the year with several strong performances, but nothing he did impacted the locker room more than his one-sentence postgame press conference after the loss to the Steelers: "Just watch how we bounce back." His teammates loved it. It's the sign of a player emerging as a leader.

Why is cornerback above pass rusher on my list of needs for the Ravens? Due to injuries, their cornerbacks in overtime last Sunday were 33-year-old Jimmy Smith, rookie safety Brandon Stephens and Kevon Seymour, a practice-squad elevation. You always need way, way more cornerback depth than you think.

The need for cornerbacks doesn't mean the need for pass rushers isn't also pressing, especially after Tyus Bowser's reported Achilles injury last Sunday. Adding that to the questions surrounding others at the position, it's hard right now to pencil in anyone besides Odafe Oweh as a sure contributor in 2022.

Kevin Zeitler turns 32 in March and has 151 career starts, but the Ravens surely are thrilled he is under contract through 2023. He is durable, consistent, part of the O-line solution, loves it here. It's too early to talk about an extension but I wouldn't let him get away.

Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman deserve credit for hanging in there, averaging 4.3 yards per carry as emergency replacements for J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. Still, it's not surprising the Ravens' non-quarterback rushing total dropped sharply from 122.3 yards per game in 2020 to 82.8 yards per game in 2021.

With the regular season now 17 games, it's hard to believe a nine-win team made the playoffs. But it happened in both conferences with the Steelers (9-7-1) and Eagles (9-8). That the Ravens had a real shot despite losing their last six games tells you how low the bar is.

The Ravens had to use 75 players this season, tying a franchise record, because of the many injuries and illnesses. But the Titans used even more players (91) and earned the AFC's top seed despite playing most of the season without All-Pro running back Derrick Henry. Credit to them.

Of all the teams in the AFC playoffs, the Titans surely are the happiest that the Ravens won't walk through the door as an opponent. Tennessee has earned the No. 1 seed twice before, in 2000 and 2008, and on both occasions, the Ravens came to Nashville and beat them.

As it turned out, the Ravens, ended the 2021 season by playing three division winners (Packers, Bengals, Rams) and another playoff qualifier (Steelers) in the final month. They lost all four to finish 1-7 against teams that made the playoffs. The lone win was over the Chiefs in Week 2.

Clearly a point of focus, offensive holding penalties were up 36 percent across the league this season compared to 2020, according to the Associated Press. The Ravens exceeded that average spike by quite a bit, as their holding penalties rose by nearly 80 percent (from 14 to 25) this season.

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