Is It Time for Devin Duvernay, James Proche II to Get More Involved in the Offense?
Tight end Nick Boyle's outstanding blocking ability was a major factor in the success of the Ravens' running game, which is why losing him for the rest of the season to a knee injury is so devastating.
There's simply no replacing Boyle. That's why The Athletic's Brandon Howard believes the Ravens need to change their offensive identity, and rookie wide receivers Devin Duvernay and James Proche II are key players in doing so.
He said the Ravens need to abandon the multiple tight end and running back groupings that have been a staple of the offense and use more 11 personnel, perhaps even getting four wide receivers on the field on occasion.
"Through Week 10 of the 2020 NFL season Baltimore has gotten three wide receivers on the field for 54 percent of their offensive plays," Howard wrote. "Only San Francisco, Cleveland, Green Bay, Minnesota, and Las Vegas have fewer.
"Baltimore has very few tendency breakers within their personnel groupings, and defenses are beginning key in on what the team likes to do out of their multiple tight end and two-back sets. Now would be a great time for the Ravens to be a little more consistent about getting more receivers on the field in order to become less predictable between the 20s."
Duvernay, a third-round pick out of Texas, has seen a significant increase in snaps over the past four games, and that trend needs to continue, Howard wrote.
"Thanks to his experience as a running back [in high school], he also excels as a runner after the catch. The Ravens should give Duvernay more screens early and often to allow him to pick up easy yards throughout a game," Howard wrote. "The Ravens may very well want to consider allowing Duvernay to be the target on vertical shots downfield as well. He has the requisite athleticism to eat up cushion and beat most any cornerback in the NFL for an explosive play.
"Getting another playmaker on the field on a consistent basis would prevent cornerbacks from peeking into the backfield to see what Lamar Jackson and company are doing, and it would also force safeties to be more honest due to the fact that there's another burner on the field who's a big play waiting to happen."
Proche, who was the nation's co-leader in receptions (111) at SMU in 2019 and had a combined 204 catches for 2,424 yards and 27 touchdowns in his final two college seasons, has played almost exclusively on special teams for the Ravens as a punt returner. The sixth-round pick out of SMU has received one target and is still looking for his first catch as a pro.
"He has more than enough juice to get vertical and stack defensive backs and he definitely has the requisite footwork to quickly get in and out of breaks on short and intermediate routes," Howard wrote. "If Baltimore would like to jumpstart their offense, now would be a fine time to begin giving Proche a few more snaps on offense."
An Abundance of Penalties Has Proved Costly in Close Losses
Self-inflicted wounds have made the Ravens' past two losses even more excruciating. The team has committed penalties at an alarming rate, and the plethora of flags was a contributing factor in close losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots.
The Ravens are the fifth-most penalized team in the league, and the problem has gotten worse of late.
"Baltimore has been involved in a one-score game in three of their last four outings, having lost two of those three by a combined 10 points," Russell Street Report's Adam Bonaccorsi wrote. "In those contests, the Ravens amassed 29 penalties for a whopping 306 yards, which means half of their penalties and more than half of the penalty yards came in just three of their nine games on the season."
Of the 33 penalties (four were declined) the Ravens committed in those games, 19 were on the offense, per Bonaccorsi.
"Recalling that these were all part of one-score games, it truly makes you wonder how the outcome could've possibly changed if Baltimore was playing more disciplined football with fewer mental lapses to possibly negate a handful of these penalties," Bonaccorsi wrote.
The most frustrating aspect of the Ravens' penalties this season is the frequency of those of the pre-snap variety. Baltimore has committed 26 pre-snap penalties, including 18 on offense.
"The Ravens have been flagged six times for illegal formation (compared to six total in 2019), and another two times for illegal shifts," Bonaccorsi wrote. "Just to give you an even more frustrating snapshot, the Ravens account for 22% of all illegal formation penalties in the entire NFL (six of 27) and 20% of all illegal shifts (two of 10)."
- The Jacksonville Jaguars want their former pass rusher, Yannick Ngakoue, to go to the Pro Bowl because it would improve one of their draft picks. Fans have caught on and are helping out their team.