What Will Ravens Do to Add Depth at Cornerback?
With a showdown against the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes coming up on Monday night, the main question coming out of Sunday's win is what the Ravens will do to fill the void created by nickel cornerback Tavon Young's season-ending knee injury.
After Young suffered a torn ACL in the first quarter, Anthony Averett was the next man up. The third-year cornerback played on the outside, while All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey moved into the slot.
"Perhaps, the most seamless move would be using [Jimmy] Smith as a full-time cornerback again and putting him on the outside with Humphrey moving inside, where he played well last year," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "Anthony Averett would then take over the fourth cornerback role. The Ravens could also just opt to use Averett in Young's role and keep having Smith play some safety, which is potentially important given the Ravens' lack of depth there."
Young's departure leaves the Ravens with just four cornerbacks on the active roster, so they'll most likely add one, whether it's by promoting someone off the practice squad or signing a free agent.
"Cornerback is a position where the demand around the league far exceeds the supply," Zrebiec wrote. "Current corners available include Prince Amukamara, Tramaine Brock and Morris Claiborne. The Ravens could sign a veteran corner for some insurance, but it will probably take a bit for them to get up to speed and learn the defense.
"The more likely move is the Ravens staying with what they have for now and promoting one of their practice squad cornerbacks, Terrell Bonds or Khalil Dorsey, to the active roster in time for next Monday's game versus Kansas City. Dorsey or Bonds could take Young's roster spot when he goes to injured reserve, or the Ravens could just use that open spot to get safety and core special teamer Jordan Richards on the roster."
Lamar Jackson Was 'Low-Key Great' Against Texans
Lamar Jackson did not make any spectacular runs that broke the internet and defenders' ankles in the Ravens' win over the Houston Texans on Sunday. He barely broke 200 yards passing, only threw one touchdown pass, and was sacked four times.
Yet the Ravens still beat the AFC South champions by 17 points on the road, and despite Jackson's lack of highlight-reel plays and gaudy stats, he delivered another outstanding performance.
Jackson once again showed off his accuracy, completing 18 of 24 passes, which actually lowered his completion percentage for the season to 78 percent. Despite facing a fierce pass rush, he did not throw an interception and has not committed a turnover in either game this year.
The Texans were determined to take away Jackson's favorite target, tight end Mark Andrews, and they held him to one catch. No problem. Jackson spread the ball around, as nine different receivers caught at least one pass.
"It's hard to not see it as a positive that Jackson had at least a respectable day passing and his favorite target, Andrews, was barely involved," Zrebiec wrote.
Wrote Ebony Bird’s Chris Schisler: "In a game where [Jackson] didn't make his usual amount of big plays, he was low-key great. There were a lot of situations where bad plays were almost likely and they didn't come. There were plays that should have been nothing burgers that he got something out of. Jackson was sneaky good in this game. … Jackson managed this game and he made things happen and quarterbacks don't get enough credit for doing this.
"Jackson kept control of this game from start to finish. The man was simply on top of everything, The little things are huge and Jackson delivered on them in this game. Jackson had four sacks in a game where most quarterbacks would have been hit more. The Texans somehow managed to win the battle at the line of scrimmage and they still didn't win the battle. That's special. It's underrated special. That's what Jackson gave the Ravens in this game."
Head Coach John Harbaugh praised Jackson for his poise and decision-making against the Texans.
"They left Lamar [Jackson] with nowhere to go a couple of times, just with good coverage and rush," Harbaugh said. "A lot of times, as the pocket begins to tighten up a little bit, Lamar has been able to find guys open. This time, there weren't always guys open and he had to eat the ball. I thought he made good decisions [and] held onto the ball in the pocket, and sometimes you have to take the sack."
Said CBS NFL analyst Trent Green: "He doesn't turn the ball over. He's only got nine interceptions in his 24 career starts, and that was the case against the Texans. Sure they weren't gaudy numbers. … He realizes with a defense like that, arguably the best special teams in the league, as long as he isn't turning the ball over, when he has an opportunity to make a big play, go ahead and take it."
Even though other quarterbacks put up bigger numbers than Jackson in Week 2, Good Morning Football's Nate Burleson said Jackson once again showed why he's the reigning league MVP.
"I'm going to keep talking about Lamar Jackson because he's going to keep balling out every single week," Burleson said. "He is so fast ... and he's not taking hits. So the narrative that he's not going to be able to last, the narrative that he can't throw, the narrative that he isn't a franchise quarterback, he has answered all those questions and he continues to raise the bar. Lamar Jackson is fantastic, and I will talk about him every week."
Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson said on the PFF NFL Podcast that Jackson continues to prove there's no blueprint to stop him and the Ravens offense.
"There's no kryptonite that we're waiting to discover," Monson said. "This is not a flash in the pan that there's a ticking clock until NFL defenses figure out what Lamar's doing, catch up with it and identify the way of stopping it. It's not happening. There's no answer to what he's doing. He is a singularly unique talent and is too good at everything you need him to be good at in order to invalidate any game plan you have. … He is an impossible-to-defend entity."
Statistics Support Harbaugh's Assessment of Pass Protection
At Harbaugh's Monday press conference, he concluded after watching the film that the offensive line "did a pretty good job" against Houston's pass rush. Penn Live’s Aaron Kasinitz said the statistics support Harbaugh's assessment.
"The Texans sacked Jackson four times but registered just five total quarterback hits. Comparatively, the Ravens' defense, which finished with the same total of four sacks, piled up 13 hits on Houston signal caller Deshaun Watson," Kasinitz wrote.
To further dispel the notion that Jackson was under constant duress, Kasinitz noted that Jackson took 3.12 seconds to throw on average, the third-most time of any passer across the NFL in Week 2, according to NFL's Next Gen Stats.
While there's certainly room for improvement, which Harbaugh admitted, the film and the numbers indicate that the offensive line situation is not as dire as one might think.
- Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman got a Week 2 "game ball" from "Good Morning Football's" Peter Schrager. "In two weeks, the Ravens absolutely slaughtered two very good teams in the Browns and the Texans. Yesterday, it was a completely different game-plan than we saw in Week 1. … Greg Roman, everyone was supposed to figure you out over the offseason. The Ravens just get better. Their offense is electric, and everyone touches the ball."