Even great players must work on their game, and Marlon Humphrey acknowledged that after Sunday's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase got the best of Humphrey in their one-one matchup, exploding for eight catches for 201 yards and a touchdown during the Bengals' 41-17 victory.
Humphrey is a fierce competitor, a two-time Pro Bowler with the confidence to be left on an island against the NFL's top receivers. Being worked over by Chase didn't sit well with Humphrey, who went on social media after the game, vowing to examine what he did wrong.
Pass Game Coordinator/Secondary Coach Chris Hewitt said he would stress to Humphrey that he should trust his technique and stick with it. Before the season, Humphrey talked about having a “game plan” before each play, a topic that he and Hewitt discuss often.
Hewitt reiterated that point on Tuesday, noting that Humphrey has already proven he's one of the game's top corners. In the second half of the season, Hewitt wants Humphrey to trust his technique
"He's had really good games," Hewitt said. "(Against) the Chargers, he had to take 81 (Mike Williams) all by himself. He did that and did a really good job against him. Chase got the best of him. What we're talking about moving forward is, continue to work on your technique. Don't stray from what your technique is, which has gotten you to this point. You watch it from the first quarter to the fourth quarter, he changed what he was doing. He was doing a really good job the first quarter, and then the fourth quarter he changed what he was doing technique-wise and it hurt him."
Hewitt said the focus on sharpening technique wasn't meant just for Humphrey, but for the entire secondary. The Ravens are ranked 29th in the NFL in pass defense, surrendering 296.1 yards per game.
"We're going to get better over the bye," Hewitt said. "We've had some bumps in the road. We'll keep on working our technique. The message hasn't changed; the sky is not falling or anything like that. We're in a good position, and we're just going to continue to keep on getting better."
Anthony Averett Knows How It Feels to Be Targeted
According to Pro Football Focus, Anthony Averett has been targeted 60 times this season, more than any cornerback in the league and seven more times than the next closest player. He was targeted a whopping 16 times by the Bengals on Sunday.
For the most part, Averett has held up extremely well under that pressure, including Sunday when he had seven tackles and broke up three passes. Averett also has a team-leading two interceptions.
When Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters suffered a season-ending knee injury prior to Week 1, Averett became the starter next to Humphrey, putting Averett in a position to be tested often by opposing quarterbacks. He had a difficult game against the Indianapolis Colts when he was targeted 11 times and gave up nine catches for 184 yards, per Pro Football Focus. But Averett has risen to the challenge since, and Hewitt believes his best football is ahead.
"I don't know a corner in the National Football League that hasn't gone through games like that where guys get beat or they're getting picked on a little bit," Hewitt said. "It's a hard position to play. It's an aberration.
"He's had some ups and downs as far as play, but he's always been a confident person with great skill. It's well-documented what we feel about him here as a player. He's starting caliber and he's playing at that level."
More Talk About Tackling
Missed tackles have been an issue for the Ravens all season, and the bye week gives them an opportunity to examine the issue more closely. Hewitt said the Ravens' coaches would be raising the tackling issues with players.
"Tackling really starts with a mindset," Hewitt said. "It's a want-to. We've just got to get that put across to our players, we've got to have that mentality all the time. There's 11 guys out there and we've got to play with our leverage and play with the great effort we've always had."
Inside Linebackers Coach Rob Ryan said there's no reason why the Ravens' tackling shouldn't improve.
"Bottom line is these are great athletes," Ryan said. "They're some of the top athletes in the world, and we know we have to tackle better to have a great defense."
Right Tackle Is Latest Position for Tyre Phillips
As a rookie last season, Tyre Phillips opened the season at right guard and eventually moved to right tackle. This season, he was the starting left guard in Week 1 before suffering a knee injury that temporarily landed him on the injured list.
Now Phillips is back in action, and he took over as the starting right tackle on Sunday after Patrick Mekari left with an ankle injury. The timetable for Mekari's return is uncertain, but Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris has confidence that Phillips is ready to step back into a starting role.
"He had to play three quarters of the game [at tackle]," D'Alessandris said. "For the first time back at that position and going with live bullets, he did a nice job, and he'll get better from there.
"Initially, we would have loved to have him at left guard, but the injury happened. Now it's this next step, and he's going to be at the right tackle position until things settle down with Pat Mekari."