Midseason Grades for Lamar Jackson and Rest of Offense
Eight weeks into the season, The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec has handed out his midseason grades.
At 5-2, the Ravens have the same record as they did after seven games last season. In their seventh game in 2019, they defeated the Seahawks by 14 points in Seattle to solidify their status as playoff contenders and Lamar Jackson's candidacy for league MVP.
This year, the Ravens head into their eighth game coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at home in a game in which Jackson committed four turnovers.
"Quarterback Lamar Jackson has yet to come close to finding his 2019 MVP form and there are major concerns about the state of the offensive line and passing game," Zrebiec wrote. "Yet, with all of that, the Ravens are still considered one of the better teams in the NFL."
Here are some excerpts from Zrebiec's midseason report card on the offense (we'll look at his grades for the defense tomorrow):
Comments: "Jackson has been quite good at times and the offense's inconsistencies are hardly all on him. However, Jackson's decision-making and mechanics haven't been as sound and the Ravens' success will depend on him being more consistent in the second half."
Running backs: B+
Comments: "[Mark Ingram II] hasn't looked as explosive or effective in a small sample size as Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins have, but he's still averaging 4.5 yards per carry. … Edwards has done what he always does, which is get downhill, run hard and pick up positive yardage. … With a starter's workload against the Steelers, [Dobbins] was outstanding, accounting for 121 all-purpose yards and showing the speed, vision, balance and power that will make him a lead back in the NFL."
Wide receivers: C-
Comments: "[Marquise Brown's] on pace to catch 62 balls for 866 yards. Not terrible, but more was expected. … It's been a difficult first half for [Miles] Boykin, who has not always been on the same page with Jackson and not gotten many opportunities to make plays. Boykin is a conscientious and effective blocker and that matters. … Unselfish and tough, [Willie Snead IV] typically makes the most of his limited opportunities and is a willing blocker. His five catches for 106-yard receiver performance against Pittsburgh is proof that he can still be effective. … [Rookie Devin] Duvernay's snaps have increased every game since Week 2 and yet it still feels like the Ravens need to find more and better ways to get him the ball in space."
Tight ends/fullback: B
Comments: "Defenses have made it tougher and tougher on [Mark] Andrews and both his receptions and yards are behind last year's pace. … The Ravens have the most productive rushing attack in the league and [Nick] Boyle is a big reason for that. The offensive coaches ask a ton of him in both run and pass blocking, and the veteran is usually up to the task. … Between Boyle and [Patrick] Ricard, the Ravens may have the best blocking FB/TE combination in the league."
Offensive linemen: C
Comments: "[Left tackle Ronnie Stanley] is one of the most irreplaceable players the Ravens have, which is why his [season-ending ankle] injury was a brutal development for the Ravens. … [Left guard Bradley] Bozeman has improved steadily and become a very important part of the offensive line. … You can't say enough about [center Matt] Skura simply being on the field for Week 1 a little over nine months after sustaining a knee injury so severe that some wondered whether it would knock him out for the entire 2020 season. … [Rookie Tyre Phillips] was the surprise Week 1 starter at guard, a position that he never played before this summer. Predictably, he's had some ups and downs. … A 2019 Pro Bowl selection, [Orlando Brown Jr.] is starting to round into form and the Ravens need him more than ever as he moves over to left tackle for the injured Stanley. … [D.J.] Fluker is the best option the Ravens have at right tackle right now and he'll have to deliver. … Phillips' ankle injury leaves [Patrick] Mekari as the likely choice to start at right guard."
Three Ravens Make Top 25 Under 25 Rankings
Three Ravens made Pro Football Focus' top 25 players under 25, led by Jackson, who was No. 2 behind Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey.
"It's clear this season that Lamar Jackson is at least from this world — not an alien who is set to completely rewrite all we know about the game," PFF's Sam Monson wrote. "With a worse offensive line, scheme changes and a nagging injury, Jackson hasn't been quite at his MVP level so far in 2020, but half of his performances have earned a PFF grade of at least 75.0."
All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey and Pro Bowl tight end Andrews came in at Nos. 7 and 17, respectively.
"Since the start of the 2018 season, only [the New England Patriots'] Stephon Gilmore has a higher PFF coverage grade than Humphrey when in single coverage," Monson wrote. "And when limiting that to snaps played strictly at outside corner, Humphrey is No. 1 by some distance, with one of the highest forced-incompletion rates (31.3%) of any corner. … Humphrey is a true stud."
On top of Humphrey's coverage skills, he also has become a master at punching out the ball. He has a league-leading four forced fumbles this season.
Regarding Andrews, Monson wrote: "Since the start of 2019, Andrews leads the Ravens in targets (136), catches (87), touchdown receptions (15), first downs (60), yards per route run (2.37) and has almost three times more contested catches than the next receiver. He is an outstanding receiver over the middle for the Ravens offense and one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the game."
A case can be made that Orlando Brown Jr. also deserved a spot on the list.
Ravens Reportedly Bringing in Veteran Cornerback Tramon Williams for Tryout
Dealing with a depleted secondary, the Ravens reportedly will bring in veteran cornerback Tramon Williams for a tryout.
Williams, 37, has played 13 seasons in the NFL, including 10 with the Green Bay Packers. A Pro Bowl selection in 2007, Williams has 34 career interceptions and started seven games with the Packers last season.
Williams' workout will reportedly take place after a five-day testing period for the coronavirus, so he would not be eligible to play this Sunday.
Cornerback Nate Brooks, who played in three games (two as a starter) as a rookie with the Miami Dolphins, also is among the six players reportedly being brought in for workouts.
The Ravens have three cornerbacks on the injured reserve list (Tavon Young, Anthony Averett and Iman Marshall), and Humphrey and practice squad cornerback Terrell Bonds are on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Willie McGinest Reveals the 'Secret Sauce' for Ravens to Defeat Colts
NFL Network's Willie McGinest said the key for the Ravens to defeat the Colts is to get pressure on quarterback Philip Rivers and force him into making mistakes.
"The two games he's lost, he's thrown two or more interceptions," McGinest said. "Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale has got to get creative and find different ways to get pressure on Philip, get him uncomfortable in the pocket and make him throw the ball to the Ravens. That's the secret sauce."
Rivers, who threw 20 interceptions with the Los Angeles Chargers last year, has six interceptions in seven games this season.
- NFL Network selected the Ravens' top five plays in their history against the Colts.