Should Ravens Re-Sign Justin Forsett?
Don't pretend you knew Justin Forsett was going to break out like this. Because nobody predicted it.
Even offensive super genius Gary Kubiak said in February, "I think as [Ray Rice] goes, we’ll go."
But Rice is gone, and Forsett has stepped up in a BIG way.
The guy has been an absolute revelation, ranking in the top 5 in all the major rushing categories:
No. 2 = rushing yards per attempt (5.8)
No. 4 = total yards (503)
No. 5 = rushing yards per game (71.9)
But as of right now, Forsett is scheduled to become a free agent this offseason after signing a one-year deal last April. The question begs to be asked: Will the Ravens try to re-sign Forsett after the season?
Jamison Hensley, what say you?
"Forsett has certainly made a convincing argument to stick around. It's still too early to make that type of projection," the ESPN reporter wrote.
"Forsett has been the most surprising story on this year's team. He is a major reason why the Ravens are [5-2], and he's a good fit for Gary Kubiak's offense. Let's just see if Forsett can maintain this success for the rest of the season."
The concern Hensley has with Forsett is his ability to take a pounding throughout the grueling 16-game season. He says not a lot of backs Forsett's size (5-foot-8, 197 pounds) can endure all those hits and keep on ticking.
Additionally, Forsett is 29 years old and the Ravens have two backs on the roster that are five (Bernard Pierce) and seven (Lorenzo Taliaferro) years younger.
"The Ravens could certainly reward [Forsett] with a modest two-year deal at the end of the season, but the Ravens may want to look to the future," wrote Hensley. "They have Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro under contract for the 2015 season, and they could use another middle-round pick on a young runner."
If Kubiak Leaves, Who Would Replace Him?
As a follow-up to last week when Hensley said he believes Kubiak could be one-and-gone, fans incessantly started asking who would be his replacement.
Some thought Quarterbacks Coach Rick Dennison or Tight Ends Coach Brian Pariani would take over. After all, they understand the successful system Kubiak has been running for years.
But don't count on either of them sticking around if Kubiak leaves, says Hensley.
"If that would happen, I don't see [Dennison] becoming the offensive coordinator. He's been Kubiak's right-hand man, so he'll likely go with Kubiak. The same goes with [Pariani], who was on Kubiak's staff in Houston. It's also unlikely that the Ravens would look to running back coach Thomas Hammock or wide receivers coach Bobby Engram because they're in their first NFL season."
OK, that's who can be crossed of the list. Who would be ON the list?
"That leaves Offensive Line Coach Juan Castillo, who's done a good job with that group this year, or a more experienced playcaller who's not in the building," Hensley wrote.
One Of Best Things About Harbaugh
When a head coach leads a team to the playoffs five out of the six years, you could come up with a long list of strengths.
One of John Harbaugh's many strengths, Mike Preston?
"One of the best things about coach John Harbaugh is that he isn't concerned about his assistant coaches getting credit," The Baltimore Sun Columnist wrote. "A lot of coaches would let egos get in the way, especially when a team brings in a high-profile assistant like [Kubiak], but Harbaugh hasn't shown any resentment.
How We Felt Watching Steelers' Comeback Win
The bipolar Pittsburgh Steelers ruined Monday Night Football.
They dug themselves out of a 13-point hole, scoring 24 unanswered points in three minutes.
I think Ravens Nation is going to be sick, much like Lawrence Timmons, whose vomiting on the field is all over the Internet this morning.
True to form, those pesky Steelers always seem to have nine lives, while the Browns, who looked like they might have had a chance to actually contend this year, dropped a game to the previously winless Jaguars Sunday.
Lots could change, but the Ravens have a high probability of winning the division after taking over the top spot Sunday. Turns out, 70 percent of teams that ultimately won their divisions had the lead going into Week 8, per ESPN. So take that for what it's worth.
For now, we've got a two-team race in the AFC North with Sunday's Ravens-Cincy game having a big impact on the division race.
"After three weeks, the Cincinnati Bengals stood 3-0, with a road win against the Ravens in hand and an apparent head start to winning their second straight division title," wrote The Sun's Childs Walker. "My, how quickly narratives flip in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately NFL.
"The Ravens have to feel they’re stalking a wounded rival as they prepare for their trip to Cincinnati next weekend. They have found their legs on offense and in the pass rush, at the same time the Bengals seem unable to stop anyone or protect quarterback Andy Dalton."
Here are the AFC playoff standings, per NFL.com:
Division LeadersBroncos: 5-1
Ravens: 5-2Wild CardChargers: 5-2
Bengals: 3-2-1In The HuntSteelers: 4-3
Highest, Lowest PFF Grades vs. Falcons
The grades are in from Pro Football Focus, and there's really not much to gripe about. With the exception of undrafted rookie James Hurst, the lowest grades aren't too bad.
Marshal Yanda: plus-4.9
Daryl Smith: plus-4.8
Elvis Dumervil: plus-4.4
Terrell Suggs: plus-3.6
C.J. Mosley: plus-2.1
James Hurst: minus-6.9
Crockett Gilmore: minus-1.7
Lorenzo Taliaferro: minus-0.8
DeAngelo Tyson: minus-0.7
Terrence Brooks: minus-0.7
Haloti Ngata: minus-0.7
The three-headed monster of Suggs, Dumervil and Pernell McPhee stole the show with 20 pressures and a combined pass-rushing grade of plus-9.8.
So Smith's impressive performance largely flew under the radar.
"Up until this week Smith had been showing his age a bit this season, performing a step behind the dominant coverage linebacker we saw a year ago," wrote PFF's Michael Renner. "Against the Falcons, however, he showed he can still move sideline-to-sideline with the best of them. The Falcons' running scheme heavily featured pulling linemen and time after time Smith got to the point of attack before the linemen could. In coverage, Smith kept his four targets in front of him and allowed just three catches for 11 yards."
Hurst has largely exceeded expectations while filling in at left tackle for starter Eugene Monroe, but he struggled against the Falcons, committing three holding penalties, which Hurst explains here. Here's Renner's thoughts on rookie's outing.
"It looks like Eugene Monroe will finally be back next week and Ravens fans everywhere can let out a sigh of relief," wrote Renner. "In his four-game stint, Hurst performed about how you'd expect an undrafted rookie to perform at left tackle, which is to say not well. On Sunday he was beaten for two pressures, but was also flagged three times for holding. His holds were almost preferable, as the speed with which Hurst was getting beat from the blindside would have put Flacco in some precarious positions."
- The Ravens are sticking with Jacoby Jones as the returner. When asked if the team feels comfortable with Jones going forward, Harbaugh simply said: "I do." [The Baltimore Sun]
- The Ravens are the stingiest defense in the NFL, allowing just 14.9 points per game. The last time the Ravens led the league? It was in 2006, when Rex Ryan coordinated the self-proclaimed "organized chaos" defense. [ESPN]