Editor's note: The Ravens offices will be closed Thursday and Friday during the bye. As such, Late for Work will take a brief vacation along with Ravens players for the next four days. Have no fear, the column will be back Monday morning and will cover all the top Ravens* *storylines from over the break. For those of you who rely on a daily dose of LFW just to make it through the workday, take a deep breath. You got this.
Three Ravens Receivers That Deserve More Targets From Joe Flacco
While watching the loss to the Tennessee Titans unfold Sunday, there was a perception among media that the Ravens were intentionally trying to feed wide receiver Breshad Perriman the ball. The idea was that one deep catch, or one strong game, could be the spark that unleashes his blazing potential.
Perriman was targeted a season-high seven times, with his previous high being four. He finished with three catches for 28 yards, nearly doubling his season's production to seven total receptions for 54 yards.
"The Ravens tried to give Breshad Perriman a star turn, and it didn't work," The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker wrote the next day.
Head Coach John Harbaugh said there wasn't a designed emphasis to get Perriman the ball. Instead, it was a result of quarterback Joe Flacco simply going through his progressions. Harbaugh said he wants to get several receivers more involved.
If you ask WNST's Luke Jones, emphasizing (and de-emphasizing) which receivers get the bulk of targets going forward may not be such a bad thing.
After Perriman dropped two passes that Flacco put on the money – one resulting in an interception – Jones believes Perriman should get fewer looks while Jeremy Maclin and Chris Moore deserve more opportunities.
"It's becoming very difficult to justify Breshad Perriman being on the field," Jones wrote. "His inability to effectively use his size and speed reflects an utter lack of confidence, and he doesn't contribute on special teams.
"Jeremy Maclin had his best game as a Raven, catching eight passes on nine targets for 98 yards. He's had his problems staying healthy, but there's no reason he shouldn't be targeted more frequently with so many others underperforming in this passing game. … On the principle of his superb special-teams play alone, Chris Moore should be receiving opportunities over Perriman at this point."
Jones added that he isn't sure what Moore, a 2016 fourth-round pick, will bring to the table, but Moore has just one fewer catch than Perriman, a 2015 first-round pick, in 162 fewer offensive snaps. Moore also had a contested pass go through his hands, off his pads and into the hands of a Chicago Bears defender.
Below is a breakdown of how passes have been distributed this season, not including tight ends and running backs. Running back Buck Allen (39 receptions) and tight end Benjamin Watson (38) lead the Ravens in catches this year. When he returns, running back Danny Woodhead also figures to become a big part of the short and intermediate passing game.
There's one receiver that's not listed here that's gotten buzz this week as a potential contributor in the second half of the season. That receiver is undrafted rookie Quincy Adeboyejo.
Harbaugh said Adeboyejo has yet to be fully healthy after suffering a PCL injury in training camp. Instead of putting him on injured reserve, the Ravens have kept him on the practice squad, making him eligible to play once he's fully rehabbed.
Adeboyejo told the head coach that he's currently 85 percent healed, and Harbaugh said that once the rookie reaches 100 percent, he will be a "part of the conversation."
"Plenty have posed the fair point of being fed up [with the receiving game] at this point, and have started to question other options: Who can they bring up? Who can they sign? What can they possibly do to fix this problem? Can they even do anything at this point in the season?" writes USA Today's Lindsey Ok.
"One or more of those questions could be answered with an option sitting right on the practice squad."
Looking at NFL Draft Order and Whether Ravens Should Select Backup QB
I know, I know. It's too early to talk draft.
But the chatter has already begun, so let's quickly look at it.
If the season ended today, the Ravens would have the No. 11 overall pick in the first round. NFL Media's draft analyst Lance Zierlein believes Baltimore's top needs all reside on the offense, including at guard, wide receiver and running back.
"The Ravens need to add more competition at guard," Zierlein wrote. "While Baltimore has some talented players at the skill-position spots, they need to find the right ones."
I get where Zierlein is coming from with naming guard as a top need based on injuries this season, but the Ravens will get back Pro Bowler Marshal Yanda and soon-to-be third-year player Alex Lewis. As such, I wouldn't put that position as high on the list.
Another need on offense will be at quarterback. Obviously, Flacco will be entrenched as the starter in 2018, but he doesn't have a backup on the books. Ryan Mallett is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March.
And as Flacco enters his 11th season and turns 33 next year, some pundits believe it wouldn't be a bad idea to start developing a young talent behind the franchise quarterback.
Ravens' Midseason MVP: Alex Collins … Where Does Terrance West Fit in?
OK, back to writing about this season …
NFL Nation reporters from ESPN were asked to name the non-QB MVPs for each of the 32 NFL teams, and running back Alex Collins was selected for Baltimore.
"Yes, a player who was cut by the Seahawks and wasn't on Baltimore's season-opening roster has turned into the player the Ravens could least afford to lose (beside Joe Flacco)," wrote ESPN. "Collins has been the best player on what has been one of the worst offenses in the NFL."
With an explosive and violent running style, Collins has taken over the starting running back role in Baltimore and has become the biggest playmaker on the offense. He ranks second in the NFL with a 5.6-yard per carry average and threatens to break loose every time the ball is in his hands.
Interestingly, Terrance West participated Tuesday in his first practice since injuring his calf in the Week 5 contest in Oakland, and he could return to game action after the bye. Prior to his injury, West started 17 of the Ravens' previous 18 games.
People will be watching what the running back rotation will look like now that Collins has started five of the last six games. Among the people wondering how he'll be used … is West himself.
"That's a good question," West said Tuesday. "We will see how it goes. My main focus is whenever my number is called, I have to take advantage of the opportunity."
Analysts Still Like Ravens' Chances of Reaching Playoffs
After losing five of their last seven games, the Ravens will now have to win at least five of their next seven to keep their playoff hopes alive.
That's a tall order.
Harbaugh was resolute Monday in his belief that his team can go on a run and punch a postseason ticket. You expect that from a coach, but you don't expect it as much from national analysts.
NFL Network's Mike Garafolo was asked in the video below to name a "long shot" team to make the playoffs, and he picked the Ravens. He believes that if the defense can get back to playing as dominant* *as it did early in the season, Baltimore will sneak in.
Then, in the next video, former NFL quarterback David Carr says the Ravens will make the cut because their remaining schedule is favorable.
NFL Power Rankings: Ravens Move up Despite Loss
I haven't listed the power rankings for a couple weeks because they get stale after a while, but let's check in while the Ravens are enjoying their bye.
Baltimore moved up in half of the rankings below despite losing Sunday.
CBS Sports: No. 17 (down three)
"They just don't do enough on offense, which is why they will be sitting home come playoff time. Injuries have impacted this team in a big way."
Sporting News: 18 (down two)
"They're the typical yo-yo team, and that won't cut it in an AFC that's more stacked in the middle than it has been in recent seasons. They're all over the board offensively and defensively, making them far off the board for a real playoff run."* *
Bleacher Report: 20 (up three from last week)
"Unfortunately, poor offense is destroying a strong defense for Baltimore. Even with guys like Brent Urban and Tavon Young out for the year, the defense is still capable of winning games. However, even a great defense can only carry the load for so long. Too much time on the field and too many bad situations frequently prevent the defense from dominating. At 4-5, the Ravens are still technically in the playoff race. I can't say the same for teams that dipped below Baltimore this week, like Denver and Houston."
ESPN: 20 (up three)"Joe Flacco has thrown eight touchdowns to 10 interceptions, which is good for the third-worst TD-INT ratio in the NFL this season. He isn't the only reason for the Ravens' fall from grace, but with his high price tag, he's going to take the brunt of the criticism."
NFL.com: No. 21 (down one)
"A few folks thought Baltimore could be higher after their 40-nothing win over the Dolphins a couple Thursdays ago, but this feels like an 8-8 team at best. The defense continues to keep the Ravens afloat. On Sunday, that group completely shut down Tennessee's weekly ground assault. They allowed the Titans a grand total of 257 yards. Yet, when it takes Joe Flacco 52 pass attempts to get 261 yards though the air -- with two picks -- you see the problem."
USA Today: 22 (up three)
"Heading into their bye at 4-5, they've been quite unimpressive to date. That said, they might be favored to win six of their last seven games."