Well that was a close one, Ravens fans!
The Baltimore Ravens held off the Philadelphia Eagles 30-28 and improved their overall record to 5-1. After the Eagles scored a late touchdown within the last two minutes of the game, they came within a successful two-point conversion attempt of tying the game. The Ravens defense got the stop when it mattered most, sniffing out a QB option handoff and affectively ending the game.
But how in the heck did the game get so close?
It certainly looked like the Ravens had the game well within their grasp in the first half. They pitched a shutout, up 17-0 at halftime. The Ravens defense was giving Carson Wentz and the Eagles’ offense fits, perhaps playing the most dominant half of football so far this season.
But it was the Ravens offense, once again, that sputtered all game. They could not stay on the field very long for most of the second half. This led to the Eagles being able to break through a tired Ravens defense, making the game come down to a two-point conversion attempt.
So what is going on with the offense? Are they really as bad as they are currently perceived? Will they be okay going forward this season? Instead of focusing on just this past game, let’s look at how the Ravens offense has performed so far this season.
- The offense is still putting up points on a weekly basis. Through six games, they are averaging 29.8 points per game, which is 7th in the NFL. They are the only team that has scored in every single quarter so far this year. They have scored at least 20 points in 29 straight games dating back to 2018, which is the second best streak in NFL history.
- It may not seem like it, but the Ravens running game is still pretty darn good. While it is still averaging over 40 yards less per game this year compared to their historic season in 2019, their 164.3 yards per game is still good for third in the league.
- Opposing teams still fear the Ravens offense’s potential to put points on the scoreboard. We have seen numerous occasions where opposing coaches have made risky or controversial decisions to keep drives alive instead of punting or kicking field goals simply because they know they have to keep up the scoring race with the Ravens.
- Lamar Jackson is not spreading the ball around to guys consistently outside of his top two targets, Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews. The next two wide receivers on the depth chart, Miles Boykin and Willie Sneed, have combined to catch only 11 balls each for a combined average of 135.5 yards with only 1 total touchdown between them this season.
- The offensive line has struggled to give Jackson a clean pocket consistently. Jackson has been sacked 15 times so far, which is tied for 6th most in the NFL. The five quarterbacks that have been sacked more start for bottom-dweller teams.
- The offensive rookies have not made as big of an impact as anticipated so far this season. J.K. Dobbins was expected to have a large role in the running game from the start of the season. So far, he has only had 25 carries, nine of which came last Sunday after Mark Ingram got injured in the 1st quarter and didn’t return. Devin Duvernay was expected to be that second speedy weapon for Jackson opposite of Brown. So far, he has only 10 catches for 90 yards and has yet to catch a touchdown pass. The good news for both of these players is that their roles seem to be slowly, but surely, expanding each week.
- As hyped as this offense was going into the season, the raw numbers are just not good. The offense has so far averaged 357.5 yards per game. This is good for 27th in the league at the moment.
- What is worse is the overall passing numbers. They are averaging a measly 177.8 passing yards per game. This is second to last in the NFL. The lack of a deep passing game makes extending drives difficult. Jackson is averaging only seven yards per completed pass, which ranks towards the bottom of the NFL.
- The offensive penalties are starting to pile up. In last week’s game alone the offense committed a whopping nine penalties. This made it difficult to extend drives and put points on the board.
Projections going forward
The Ravens offense hasn’t been awful and in some ways has actually been quite good so far this season. But make no mistake, this offense is not at the same level as some of the other elite offenses in the NFL currently.
They need to improve in the passing game. It might be time to start giving Duvernay a larger role in the offense. The front office may also look into bringing in other weapons via trade or signings. Jackson needs a consistent chain-mover and safety blanket beyond Andrews to add a new dimension to the offense.
The hope is that the offensive line will improve as they get healthier and used to playing together. It’s worth noting that not having any preseason games this year may have stymied their cohesiveness at this point in the season.
The good news is the offense has room for improvement. Lamar has time to get on the same page with his receivers and to clean up some mechanical issues that have affected his consistency as a passer.
So will the offense be fine going forward? Probably, but it may be necessary to dampen the sky high expectations set on them at the beginning of the season. If the Ravens can improve to become a top 10-15 offense this season, while pairing with an elite defense, that could be enough to ride to a championship.
Looking ahead to next week
It’s a bye week! That means no game preview this time. I’ll be back next week to focus on the keys to the much-anticipated fist matchup with the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.