Red Zone Troubles Aren't Only Issue for Ravens Offense
Much has been made about the Ravens stalling in the red zone the past two weeks, but it's not the only concern about the offense.
"Just as prominent of an issue — if not bigger — is the in-game offensive inconsistency from one quarter to the next," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote.
The Baltimore Banner's Jonas Shaffer noted that the offense typically gets off to a strong start and then falls off in each successive quarter.
The trend continued in Sunday's 24-16 win over the Tennessee Titans in London. The Ravens scored on five of their six possessions in the first half. They gained 126 yards on their first two drives, with wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Odell Beckham Jr. combining for four catches for 74 yards.
In the second half, the Ravens were limited to just two field goals in the fourth quarter.
"Beckham and Agholor didn't have a single reception after the team's second drive of the game," Zrebiec wrote. "[Rashod] Bateman only had one reception after the first quarter. Devin Duvernay, Isaiah Likely and Charlie Kolar didn't get a single target.
"Instead, the offense in the second half turned the clock back to 2021 and 2022, and that's not a great thing. That meant a lot of running the ball when neither Gus Edwards nor Justice Hill were having much success, and a lot of improvising from [Lamar] Jackson with a little Mark Andrews and [Zay] Flowers mixed in."
Zrebiec said it's unclear why the offense falters as the game goes on.
"Are the Ravens getting way too conservative in the second halves of games?" Zrebiec wrote.: "Are [Offensive Coordinator Todd] Monken and company not doing enough to counter the adjustments defenses are making after Baltimore's first couple of scripted drives? Is there not enough of an effort being made to get targets like Bateman, Beckham and Likely more involved? Or is it more a matter of the Ravens just not executing and hurting themselves with turnovers, penalties and blown assignments, preventing the team from getting into a second-half rhythm?
"All feel like legitimate questions at the moment. This Ravens offense is nowhere near bad or broken. It just has to figure out how to avoid these steep drop-offs over the course of games."
Three Young Ravens Defensive Players Excelling in Contract Year
ESPN's Dan Graziano looked at the best value contracts in the league, selecting one veteran deal and one rookie deal for each position. Patrick Queen was the rookie-deal choice at linebacker.
"Queen was a first-round pick by the Ravens in 2020, and as such, he signed a four-year, $12.2 million contract," Graziano wrote. "This is the final year of that deal, and the Ravens did not exercise Queen's fifth-year option for 2024, likely because they'd just signed middle linebacker Roquan Smith to a huge extension. They might not be able to afford to keep him, but Queen should command a high-priced contract if he hits free agency next offseason. He has been a high-impact guy for Baltimore's defense, and is currently tied for 16th in tackles (53) with 3.5 sacks."
Queen is not the only defensive player from the Ravens' 2020 draft class who is performing at a high level in a contract year. Zrebiec said third-round defensive lineman Justin Madubuike and seventh-round safety Geno Stone also fit into that category.
"Madubuike has shown potential in flashes during his previous three seasons, but he's now making impactful plays on a more consistent basis," Zrebiec wrote. "He leads the team with 4.5 sacks (one off his career high) and is second with eight quarterback hits. He's played the run well, too. In a league where versatile interior pass rushers are always in demand, Madubuike has put himself in an awfully good position.
"Then, there's Stone. He's always been a solid special-teamer and proved to be a more-than-capable fill-in starter last season when Marcus Williams was out. With Williams again dealing with injuries this year, Stone has played even better. His three interceptions not only lead the team but are tied for the NFL lead. He's also fourth on the Ravens with 26 tackles. At this rate, there certainly could be teams willing to pay him starting safety-type money."
Ravens Soar to No. 3 in Colin Cowherd's Rankings
Even though the Ravens have yet to play their best football, they've made a huge impression on Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd. In his weekly “Herd Hierarchy,” Cowherd ranked the Ravens as the third-best team in the league through the first six weeks.
Cowherd cited the defense and Jackson's dual-threat ability as the main reasons he is bullish on Baltimore.
"Their defense has only allowed six touchdowns, fewest in the NFL. They have the No. 4 scoring defense, they get after the quarterback," Cowherd said. "[Jackson] leads the NFL in rushing for quarterbacks. I thought his first-half against the Titans was magical. They struggle at times in the red zone, they are a little too run-centric down there, but they've run for 100-plus yards in 22 straight games. Lamar has always been better in the pocket than he's been given credit for. I think he looks spectacular this year."
Incidentally, the team Cowherd ranked one spot behind the Ravens at No. 4 is the Detroit Lions, who will visit M&T Bank Stadium this Sunday.