Mink: Obviously, you'd love to have the Ravens spanking teams like they did to the Chargers. Or you'd like to see the offense putting up 30-some points like it did against the Chiefs, Colts, Chargers and Vikings. But with the parity around the NFL, you're just not going to get blowout wins every week. Look around, every team in the league has had a brutal loss or two. There's really no juggernaut this year; everybody has flaws.
What you want is to consistently be improving. That's what Head Coach John Harbaugh always emphasizes with his team. Baltimore's defense seems like it's making strikes. It's tackling a whole lot better, for example. Patrick Queen and Tyus Bowser have elevated their games and Odafe Oweh continues to grow into a game-wrecking monster. Watch out for this front seven once Calais Campbell is back on the field.
The offense, however, seems to have hit a bit of a lull in recent weeks after a hot start. Part of that is on Lamar Jackson, who struggled against the Dolphins' blitz, then got sick, then threw four picks against Cleveland. But if Lamar is the recent problem, he can absolutely also be the solution. The other part is the running game still isn't a major threat outside of Jackson. It's grinding out some tough yards, but not breaking any big ones, which is putting Jackson into too many second- and third-and-long situations. The offense got some players back from injury in recent weeks, but it hasn't translated to the boost of success hoped for yet.
The fact of the matter is the Ravens don't have a whole lot of margin for error because of how many season-ending injuries they've suffered. They just aren't a team that's going to blow many people out. The good news is they're still really good and they've developed a scrappy, win-at-all-costs vibe, confident that they can overcome whatever adversity comes their way. That can be a powerful driver and lead to a lot of wins, even if they may not be pretty.
Downing: The Ravens future at safety is murky right now. De'Shon Elliott is set to become an unrestricted free agent and is coming off a season-ending pectoral/biceps injury. He developed into a quality starter over the last season and a half, but it's tough to know what kind of contract he'll get in free agency considering his injury history. It's possible he ends up signing a short-term contract with the hope of cashing in later with a big long-term deal. The Ravens like his ability and energy that he brings to the field, so it's certainly possible that he gets a new deal in Baltimore. If the Ravens do re-sign him, I don't expect that to lead to a position shift like the question suggests. Chuck Clark, who will have two years left on his contract after this season, is not going to become a linebacker. He's 205 pounds. That's not just big enough for an NFL linebacker, where you take on blocks from 300-plus pound linemen and have to hold up in the run game.
Now I do I agree that the Ravens need a ball hawk on the back end. That's the role the team envisioned for Earl Thomas when signing him back in 2019. This year's team has five interceptions on the season, with is the third fewest in the league, and that's a number they want to increase. The Ravens like the potential of rookie third-round pick Brandon Stephens, who is still new at the position. He's a raw, talented athlete who has impressively stepped into a starting job in his first year at the position, and he could develop into more of a ball hawk. But I still think the Ravens will look to the draft as an avenue to replenish the position. They have other needs, particularly in the trenches, but I wouldn't rule out an early safety in this year's draft.
Mink: Harbaugh said Monday that Queen's rib injury from the Browns game is "not something that should linger." That's an indication that Queen did not suffer a broken rib. Now, he still may have been mighty sore when he woke up on Monday, but it's a good sign that he re-entered the game just one series later and finished it just fine. Queen is a linebacker and thus accustomed to playing through some pain.
Downing: This is an important question for all the fantasy football players out there. Initially, the officials ruled the pass incomplete and announced that on the field. However, the replay clearly showed that Andrews hauled in the pass with one hand without it hitting the ground, and the stat was corrected to a catch almost immediately from the booth. The replay official and stat crew made the announcement in the press box that the ruling was changed to a catch, so Andrews rightfully got credit for that impressive one-handed snag.