Eisenberg: 50 Words or Less


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

The Ravens' recent run of four losses in seven games probably eliminates Head Coach John Harbaugh from Coach of the Year consideration. But results don't change the fact that he has done stellar work in keeping afloat a team continually dealing with debilitating injuries and other setbacks and issues.

Not to pile on, but Urban Meyer's exit, applauded in the Jaguars' locker room, illustrates one of Harbaugh's fundamental strengths. He is good at relating to players, getting them to respect him and buy into how he wants things done. It's a big reason the Ravens are always playoff contenders.

Although Harbaugh said Friday that Lamar Jackson "has a chance" to play Sunday against the Packers, it's not encouraging that he missed practice all week. My hunch is Tyler Huntley will command the Ravens' offense on a day when it'll definitely need to score to keep up with Aaron Rodgers.

The best defense against Rodgers is keeping him off the field. With that in mind, the Ravens had to be encouraged that Nick Boyle, Patrick Ricard, Alejandro Villanueva and Tyre Phillips all returned to practice Friday, increasing the chances of them playing Sunday and bolstering the rushing game.

Special teams also will almost surely play a role Sunday if the Ravens keep things close and possibly spring an upset. The Packers' special teams are ranked last in the league in Football Outsiders' efficiency metric. Baltimore has a major edge with Justin Tucker, Sam Koch and company.

A lot can be gleaned from Huntley's amusingly succinct reply to a question about why he has performed so well in emergency situations. "Football's football," he said Friday with a broad smile. That's a young man who believes in himself and isn't overwhelmed or cowed in the least.

Encouraging to see Pro Football Focus grading rookie safety Brandon Stephens significantly higher as he settles into being a starter. It's still early, but the Ravens' 2021 rookie class may well have produced three frontline players with Stephens, wide receiver Rashod Bateman and outside linebacker Odafe Oweh.

Sunday is huge, but if the Ravens lose and then win in Cincinnati next week, they'd still hold at least a share of the AFC North lead, depending on how the Browns do. The two divisional games on their schedule (hosting the Steelers is the other) are so pivotal.

Harbaugh's decision to go for two last Sunday made perfect sense. The Ravens had to do it at some point as they rallied. If they tried late, either to go ahead or tie, and they didn't convert, they'd lose. Trying earlier clarified what they needed and allowed them to adjust.

I'm guessing that when the Ravens cut Breshad Perriman in 2018, they didn't expect to look up three years later and see him catching game-winning passes from Tom Brady. But Perriman, now with the Bucs after numerous career stops, did just that last week. Kudos to him for being persistent.

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