Patrick Queen Making a Strong Case for Defensive Rookie of the Year
It's not just Marlon Humphrey who's turning heads. Patrick Queen has shined through the first five games of the season.
After getting the endorsement from his teammates, pundits agree that Queen belongs in the Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation.
"He's made a strong case for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, notching two sacks, two forced fumbles and a defensive touchdown, while leading the Ravens in tackles," Baltimore Beatdown's Spencer Schultz wrote. "Queen is also Pro Football Focus' leader in 'stop percentage,' recording a stop on over 14% of snaps entering week five, which figures to remain high after another strong performance."
The fact that ESPN didn't include Queen in the top 10 of their rookie rankings seems a little silly now. NBC Sports' Peter King named Queen as one of his two defensive players of the week, along with the Los Angeles Rams' Aaron Donald.
"The rookie from LSU tormented the rookie from LSU (Bengals QB Joe Burrow) most of the day, with six tackles, a sack, two fumbles recovered and a fourth-quarter fumble returned for a 53-yard TD to clinch a 27-0 rout of the division rivals," King wrote. "The game was a wow for Baltimore's first-round pick, and a sign to Burrow of how far his team has to go to catch one of football's premier teams."
It's still early, but Queen is already living up to the linebacker standard in Baltimore. He entered Sunday's game with 33 tackles. The only other Ravens defender to have that many through their first four games was C.J. Mosley.
"The Ravens have put considerable trust in Queen, who turned 21 in August and did not become a full-time starter at LSU until a few games into last season," The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker wrote. "With his speed and aggression, he's already a threat to disrupt games from sideline to sideline, from behind the line of scrimmage to the secondary. If he pairs that with reliable command of his role in coverage, look out."
More Success Against Rookie Quarterbacks
The Ravens have dominated rookie quarterbacks under Head Coach John Harbaugh and Sunday was no different. They made life difficult for No. 1-overall pick Joe Burrow in the pocket.
"Heading into a Week 5 matchup against Burrow, the Ravens held a 17-6 record against rookie quarterbacks in the Harbaugh era," Baltimore Beatdown's Frank Platko wrote. "In convincing fashion, that number improved to 18-6 on Sunday — and it served as another reminder as to why Baltimore has been so successful in this department since 2008."
"Burrow received another harsh reminder about how difficult life in the NFL can be," ESPN's Ben Baby wrote. "Through the first four games of the season, Burrow showed why the Bengals took him with the first overall pick. After Burrow secured his first NFL win last weekend and became the first rookie to throw for 300 or more yards in three straight games, Burrow didn't look like a 23-year-old who just turned pro. That wasn't the case on Sunday."
Burrow, who had been impressive in his first four starts, looked very much like a rookie against the Ravens. He finished 19-of-30 for 183 passing yards and an interception.
The Ravens' pass rush was relentless. A lot of credit goes to Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale and the game plan he drew up. Baltimore blitzed on 59 percent of Burrow's dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus, recording pressure on almost half of them.
CBS Sports' Jeff Kerr went as far as to say it was the best defensive performance of any team this season.
"Burrow had his three-game streak of throwing for 300+ yards snapped, as the Ravens sacked him seven times and held him to 3.6 yards per attempt," Kerr wrote. "Baltimore forced three turnovers and didn't allow Cincinnati to gain over 40 yards on a drive until the final possession. They even had a stretch where Cincinnati was held to 26 plays for 22 yards, 0.8 yards per play! Dominant is the only word to describe the performance."
Who Will Step Up as the No. 3 Offensive Option?
When looking at the final box score, it's clear Jackson has two go-to targets in the passing game – Mark Andrews and Marquise "Hollywood" Brown.
It's also becoming apparent to opposing defenses.
"It's just as simple as not letting [ Andrews] get the ball," Bengals safety Jessie Bates III said. "We know where Lamar wants to go; either '15' [Brown] or '89' [Andrews]. It showed up today as well. That's all he was really throwing to, was '15' or '89.'"
While the Bengals couldn't do much to stop Brown or Andrews, it's fair to question who will step up as the third option in the passing attack.
"A bigger problem is Jackson's lack of continuity with receivers outside of Brown and Andrews, who each caught first-half touchdown passes against the Bengals," The Baltimore Sun's Daniel Oyefusi wrote. "... Jackson was 0-for-5 targeting receivers Miles Boykin and Willie Snead IV, including a miscommunication between Jackson and Boykin on a third-down fade route that forced the Ravens to settle for a field goal in the third quarter.
"Jackson's rapport with Boykin was notable in training camp, with the two frequently connecting on intermediate and deep routes. But through five games, Boykin has just 10 catches on 18 targets."
Is that player already on the roster? Devin Duvernay burst down the sideline for a 42-yard run on the opening drive, but finished with just two catches for 17 yards. As Oyefusi mentioned, Boykin and Snead were non-factors as pass catchers.
"Whatever the case, Baltimore's offense — which ranked first in the NFL in points and second in yards last season — is sitting closer to the middle of the pack through five games in 2020," Penn Live's Aaron Kasinitz wrote. "That reality can sour even a three-possession win over a division foe, and Sunday, it left a few of the Ravens' best offensive players doing more lamenting than celebrating."
On the other hand, the game script didn't warrant a big offensive day. The defense practically pitched a shutout and the game was never really in question.
Still, pundits acknowledged that the offense needs to perform at a more consistent level going forward.
"Clearly, Jackson and the Ravens seemed to understand that this type of offensive performance wasn't going to be good enough to win on most Sundays," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "It may not even be good enough to beat the one-win Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday. Defensively, the Ravens aren't going to be able to totally dominate up front and confuse and cajole a rookie quarterback like they did to Burrow all afternoon. The Ravens defense isn't going to outscore the opponent's offense too many times this year."
Run Defense Deserves Props for Containing Joe Mixon
The pass rush dominated the headlines, but the run defense was equally as impressive shutting down Bengals running back Joe Mixon.
"The Ravens defense entered Sunday's contest ranked seventh in the league with 97.5 rushing yards allowed per game, and this number will only improve after Week 5," Platko wrote. "Mixon mustered just 59 yards on 24 carries, much of which came late in the fourth quarter with the game already out of reach."
Mixon came into Sunday's game with the hot hand. He rushed for 151 yards and found the end zone three times against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but didn't see the same success against an improved front seven.
Mixon averaged just 2.5 yards per carry, and never found a rhythm against the Ravens.
Platko noted that it's three straight solid performances for the run defense after holding the Texans' David Johnson to 34 yards and Chiefs' Clyde Edwards-Helaire to 64 yards.
Russell Street Reports’ Cole Jackson gave the defensive line and linebackers A-minus grades as an improved front seven continues to find its form this season.
"The likes of Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe, and Patrick Queen were added in the offseason in large part with the hopes that they would improve a run defense that was rather leaky at times in 2019," Platko added. "So far, the early returns have been extremely encouraging."
- "This seems crazy: In 14 of their 16 regular-season games this year, the Ravens have played—or are scheduled to face—a quarterback picked in the first half of the first round of an NFL draft," King wrote. "I'd love to know if that's ever happened before. Charting the passing foes for the Ravens, past and scheduled, in 2020."
- The AFC North continues its hot start as the Ravens, Browns, and Steelers are a combined 12-2.
- Jackson's pregame sweatshirt? Just a cool $890.