Ravens' Quiet Change At Wide Receiver
The Ravens' depth chart is considered unofficial because it is put together by the public relations department.
But an updated depth chart is released a few days before each game, and this week, there was a subtle move at the wide receiver position. A few reporters took notice.
"Something quietly changed on the Baltimore Ravens' depth chart during the bye: Chris Givens is now listed as a starting wide receiver alongside Kamar Aiken," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "[T]his is an indication that Givens should be considered the frontrunner over Marlon Brown and Jeremy Ross in taking over Steve Smith's starting spot."
Based on the receivers' production the last few games, Givens deserves the promotion. He has produced more with fewer opportunities. Brown has had double the snaps of Givens, yet about one-fourth the receiving yards.
The Ravens traded with the St. Louis Rams for Givens on Oct. 3, just days before the Week 5 game against the Cleveland Browns. It was too soon for him to make an impact that week, but since then, he has slowly gained momentum.
Below are Givens and Browns' stats over the last three weeks:
Givens: 55 snaps, 8 targets, 6 receptions, 106 yards (long 39 yards)
Brown:114 snaps, 10 targets, 4 receptions, 31 yards (long 10 yards)
The 106 yards for Givens in those three contests are the exact same as what Brown has for the entire season (eight games).
After exploding onto the scene with a Ravens rookie record of seven touchdowns as an undrafted prospect in 2013, Brown took a step back in production in 2014. It was understandable because Steve Smith Sr. arrived and Torrey Smith was still in town. Despite plenty of opportunities this year to reestablish himself, Brown hasn't yet regained his connection with quarterback Joe Flacco in the red zone.
"He is struggling to get separation and is dropping too many passes," wrote Hensley.
Meanwhile, in only a month's time, Givens and Flacco's chemistry and connection keeps getting better and better. The speedy deep threat is a perfect match for Flacco's big arm.
"He's starting to feel it a little bit," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He and Joe [Flacco] are starting to develop something, an understanding for one another."
"Every time he has gotten in the game, he has made plays," Flacco said of Givens. "I think guys see that, guys react well to that. I think he's becoming one of us."
Flacco Jealous Of Blake Bortles?
Did you know that Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles played with Ravens wide receiver Breshad Perriman for two seasons at Central Florida?
Perriman notched 65 receptions for 1,199 yards and seven touchdowns while catching balls from Bortles. The Jags scooped up the quarterback in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and the Ravens selected Perriman in the first round the following year.
"Bortles played a significant role in [Perriman's] emergence as an NFL prospect," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
When talking with media this week, Bortles referenced the impact Perriman had on his career.
"He made my life pretty easy in college," Bortles said.
"I enjoyed playing with him. … Obviously, the vertical threat that he puts on the defense is as good as it gets. He can go down the field and make plays for you, really, at any time if you throw the ball anywhere near him."
Those attributes were exactly what the Ravens envisioned making Flacco's life a bit easier, but the two have yet to connect this season because of Perriman's knee injury. Flacco has enjoyed an incredible amount of success in the NFL that Bortles can only dream of at this point, but in this instance, Flacco might be a little jealous of Bortles' chance to throw passes Perriman's way.
"Joe Flacco would love to experience what Blake Bortles did in college," tweeted The Sun.
Loving Ravens' Newly-Found Swagger
At 2-6, neither the Jacksonville Jaguars nor the Ravens have any business talking about the playoffs.
Like most teams in this position, you don't hear much postseason talk coming out of Jacksonville this week.
The Ravens? They're like the honey badger, they don't care about the odds.
Statistical website numberFire says they have a 0.6% chance of making the playoffs, yet the Ravens embrace the history-making challenge of becoming the first NFL team to overcome such a staggering start.
"Of course [we can make the playoffs]," says Harbaugh.
"Let's make some history," says cornerback Jimmy Smith.
WNST's Luke Jones, for one, loves Baltimore's newly found swagger.
"Unrealistic? Absolutely. Insane? Perhaps," he wrote. "But I still like it."
"Recent Ravens teams haven't exactly oozed swagger like those from yesteryear, and that was even before they lost their two most demonstrative leaders — Terrell Suggs and Steve Smith — to season-ending injuries in the first half. Players know the odds are wildly against them, but believing you're good enough fits into that winning equation — whether you actually are or not in the end."
The Picks Are In: Jaguars vs. Ravens
Of the 58 experts below, a whopping 49 believe the Ravens will beat the Jaguars Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
The two teams may have identical records, but the Ravens have been one score away in each of their losses, have the advantage of coming off their bye and are at home. The Ravens are 5.5-point favorites.
Baltimore Sun: 7 of 7 panelists pick Ravens
"The Ravens will have to throw the ball to win because the Jaguars' rushing defense is far too tough. The same goes for Jacksonville, though, and their turnover-prone quarterback, Blake Bortles, is just what the Ravens need to break a shocking forced turnover drought." -- Alexander Pyles
ESPN: 10 of 14 panelists pick Ravens
"I've got to go with the Ravens simply because I believe they're going to improve coming off the bye week. I've got to believe they'll be better than they've been. Defensively, they've been horrible. Jacksonville struggles at home, but they struggle mightily on the road. " -- Mark Schlereth
CBS Sports: 6 of 8 panelists pick Ravens
"The Jaguars are playing consecutive road games, while the Ravens are coming off a bye. That's a big edge to the Ravens. But the Ravens have defensive issues and the Jaguars can score. That will help keep it close. The Ravens win a tight one." -- Pete Prisco
Fox Sports: 7 of 7 panelists pick Ravens
"The Jaguars are in the midst of another frustrating losing season, but there have been three major bright spots. Blake Bortles looks the part (at least some weeks) and starting wideouts Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson are proving to be the most dynamic pair of guys named Allen in the league (and also a pretty good 1-2 punch of second-year wideouts). Jags fans have a lot to be encouraged by (I swear), but I don't see them waltzing into Baltimore and winning on Sunday." -- Peter Schrager
NFL.com: 5 of 6 panelists pick Ravens
"Was going to pick the Jaguars to win close on the road -- something they've struggled to do this season -- until I remembered I'd promised myself to never pick Jacksonville again after being let down by that team several times this season. … The Ravens' 29th-ranked pass defense should be easy pickings for Blake Bortles and the Jags' air attack, but John Harbaugh's club is coming off a bye. Expect a heavy dose of Justin Forsett, who hasn't received a 20-carry workload since Week 5. Jacksonville's defense, meanwhile, could afford less work, given that it ranks 30th in both points allowed and takeaways -- some two-tone ugliness to go with those helmets." -- Elliot Harrison
ProFootballTalk.com: 2 of 2 panelists pick Ravens
"If you'd told a Jaguars fan before the season that Jacksonville would have the same record as Baltimore after eight games, that Jaguars fan would have been pretty excited. That Jaguars fan will be far less excited on Sunday." -- Mike Florio
Bleacher Report: 8 of 8 panelists pick Ravens
"If you see a Jacksonville fan, give them a hug. And snap a photo. There are companies who might pay you money for proof that they aren't a myth." -- Gary Davenport
SB Nation: 4 of 6 panelists pick Ravens
Koch Leads In Fan Pro Bowl Votes, Joins Twitter
What a week punter Sam Koch is having.
Not only is he leading fan Pro Bowl voting at his position, but he also joined Twitter yesterday. Punters are people too, so give him a follow.
- "John Harbaugh can become the Ravens' all-time winningest coach," wrote Clifton Brown. "Harbaugh has 74 regular-season victories, closing in on Brian Billick (80). The Ravens would love to see Harbaugh pass Billick because that would mean the Ravens going either 7-1 or 8-0 the rest of the way." [CSNMidAtlantic]