Ravens Continue To Lose

Baltimore Ravens Observations
Marlon Brown

For the fourth time in five games, the Baltimore Ravens have lost. This time, the loss comes at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, a divisional rival, and a team that the Ravens had beat the last 11 times that they had played. Head coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco had never lost to the Browns before as this streak started the year they came to the team.

The final score was 24-18, but the Browns had control of the game all the way and didn’t seem that close. On offense, the Ravens were out-of-sync and the defense failed to get off the field when it mattered the most — for the third straight game.

Against the Green Bay Packers, the defense allowed the Packers to run the clock out at the end of the game. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the defense allowed the Steelers to drive down the field and kick a field goal to break the tie as time expired. This week, the defense failed to get the Browns off the field to get the ball back to the offense. The Browns’ offense took the field with 6:44 left in the game and up by three and left with a field goal and a 24-18 lead with 14 seconds left in the game.

This is also the first time that the Ravens coming off of a bye week under Harbaugh.

Joe Flacco
Yesterday, Flacco was part of the problem and had one of his worst games of the season — even though the stats don’t show this. The stats show a 24-of-41 day for 250 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. If you watched the game though, you would know that he struggled throughout.

The major problem that Flacco had was his accuracy. Normally an accurate passer, Flacco was off all day, especially in the first half. Early in the game, he was constantly throwing behind receivers making it impossible for them to make plays. He should have thrown had an interception on a pass thrown behind a receiver but Browns’ cornerback Chris Owens dropped it.

On the Ravens’ two touchdown drives, he completed most of his passes, but still had accuracy problems. On the first touchdown drive, Flacco hit Torrey Smith on a deep pass for a gain of 46 yards. However, Flacco under threw the pass causing Smith to slow down to catch it. If the ball is thrown on target, Smith probably has a touchdown.

Another deep pass that Flacco under threw was his interception. Both Jacoby Jones and Smith were running post routes from different sides of the field. Flacco lobbed it up between the two and it looked like it was intended for Jones. It was so under thrown that Smith fell down trying to stop his momentum and move back on the ball. Also, there were four defenders in the area of these two receivers so it comes as no surprise that the pass was intercepted.

Flacco was most successful moving around in the pocket trying to buy time yesterday. He did a good job of extending plays by running around and found a few open receivers after moving around. He was under constant duress from the pass rush so he was moving around on most plays. In fact, Flacco had the Ravens’ two longest runs of the day — a testament to how bad the run game is right now — on his scrambles (gains of 15 and eight). Both of these runs went for first downs and the 15-yard run came on a third and 12.

Overall, it was a bad game for Flacco and the entire Ravens’ offense.

Marlon Brown
One of the few bright spots from the game for the Ravens was the performance of Brown. Undrafted out of the University of Georgia, Brown made the team and is now the number two receiver — quite an accomplishment when you consider he tore his ACL last November.

Marlon Brown

Courtesy of ICON SMI

In this game, he had five catches for 54 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion on nine targets. One of his three catches that didn’t go for a touchdown went for a first down.

On his first touchdown, there were nine seconds left in the half and it was a first and ten from the Browns’ 20-yard line. He ran a 15-yard out route to the near side of the field and was wide open. Flacco threw one of his best passes of the day and Brown dove in for the score. This touchdown made the score 14-10 to the Browns heading into halftime.

Brown’s second touchdown came early in the fourth quarter with the Ravens down 21-10. The touchdown came on first and goal from the seven and he ran another out route. Following this touchdown, the Ravens correctly went for the two-point conversion with a play-action rollout. Flacco rolled to his right and Brown ran a speed out route and caught it for the conversion which made the score 21-18.

Quickly and quietly, Brown has become a dependable receiver for Flacco and has already outperformed his undrafted free agent status.

Torrey Smith
With the Browns shifting coverage over to Smith and placing star cornerback Joe Haden on him, Brown was able to get free and have his great game.

Despite Haden covering him for most of the game, Smith was able to record five catches for 78 yards on eight targets. His biggest play came on a third and eight with less than a minute left in the first half. Smith beat Haden deep on a post route (though it looked like Haden was expecting safety help) for a gain of 46 yards which set up the Ravens’ first touchdown.

Two other catches from Smith went for first downs. The first was a gain of eight on a short crossing route on second and seven and the second was a gain of 1 on a hitch route on second and 10. These two plays show Smith’s development as a receiver as these are two routes that he wouldn’t have run last year when he was mainly a deep threat.

To come away with five catches for 78 yards while going up against Haden — one of the better cover corners in the league — is a good sign from Smith and means more teams will start to roll coverage over towards him.

Tandon Doss
Despite not making the Ravens’ original 53-man roster, Doss had excelled in his second chance with the team, but made a costly mistake this week.

Since returning, he has been the punt returner and has the second highest punt return average in the league with his 17.8 yards per return (he is also the only returner in the top five with more than 10 returns as he has 19). This week however, he muffed a punt which the Browns were able to recover.

This muffed punt gave the Browns the ball at the Baltimore 11-yard line, which all but guaranteed them a field goal and gave them an easy chance for a touchdown (which is what happened). On the fumble, Doss straight up dropped the ball and then couldn’t recover the ball after he landed right on it. The ball squirted between his legs and the Browns recovered.

Other than this, Doss actually had two good punt returns for gains of 28 and 36 which set the Ravens up at their own 47-yard line and the Cleveland 32-yard line. This second return set up the Ravens second touchdown.

On offense, Doss caught two passes for 29 yards and one went for a first down. If you take away the fumble, Doss had a good game, but you can’t overlook something of that magnitude. Expect Doss to be returning punts next week despite this fumble though.

Offensive Line
Another game, another awful showing by the offensive line. This week saw a season-high five sacks and eight quarterback hits allowed along with zero holes in the running game.

The same unblocked pressure/sacks problem occurred. This time, Michael Oher, Marshal Yanda, and Ray Rice all were blocking people already on the side of the line where the blitz came from so there was nobody there to pick up the blitzer. As the quarterback, Flacco needs to know this and get rid of the ball faster. Also, the offensive line needs to do a better job of reading the blitz as Yanda double-teamed inside on a lineman. If he let Gino Gradkowski single-block that defender, then he could have taken the extra blitzer that sacked Flacco.

Oher gave up a couple of sacks from his right tackle position but they occurred when Flacco was trying to extend the ball by moving around in the pocket. Oher initially had his guy blocked but Flacco’s moving around and Oher not being able to see that was the reason for the sacks. On a fourth and inches when the Ravens ran a quarterback sneak, Oher literally pulled Flacco for the first down. Flacco was in a massive pile and Oher came in and dragged him across the first down line.

Yanda, the right guard, had another sub-par game for his standard and was overpowered by defensive tackle Phil Taylor for a loss of three on a run play.

At center, Gradkowski, had another average day and was whistled for a holding penalty which killed a Ravens drive near mid-field.

Replacing the injured Kelechi Osemele (who is out for the year) at left guard was A.Q. Shipley and he filled in decently. He was penalized for a false start though.

Left tackle Eugene Monroe also had an average day. I didn’t see anything spectacularly good or bad.

Arthur Jones
Moving to the defensive side of the ball, the Browns weren’t able to rush the ball effectively as they gained only 2.6 yards per carry and a big part of that is because of the Ravens’ defensive line.

Jones led the run-stuffing charge with three of his four tackles coming in the form of run stops. These run stops went for gains of two, zero, and two.

Not content to just stuff the run, Jones made an impact in the passing game as well. On the first play of the game, Jones burst through the line and flushed quarterback Jason Campbell out of the pocket — right into Terrell Suggs. On another play, Jones got pressure and hit Campbell which forced him to throw a check down pass to the running back which went for a gain of zero after a tackle by Jameel McClain.

This was yet another solid performance by the free-agent-to-be. Jones is setting himself up to get a nice payday this offseason.

Chris Canty
With Jones at one defensive end, Canty is at the other and together they form a talented tandem that can create problems for offensive lines.

Jones beat Canty in terms of run stops and tackles, but Canty was able to equal Jones’ quarterback hits.

With three total tackles, Canty had two run stops which both went for gains of one. One of these run stops came when the Browns ran the wildcat formation. Canty wasn’t fooled at all as he quickly diagnosed the play and made the stop.

His quarterback hit was probably the hardest hit by a Ravens’ defender in the game as he absolutely leveled Campbell. However, he was just a second late as Campbell got the pass off which was completed for a gain of 32.

Daryl Smith
As usual, Smith, a middle linebacker, was all over the field making plays for the Ravens as he has done every other game.

Unsurprisingly he led the Ravens with nine tackles and also had one sack, pass defensed, and two quarterback hits.

Starting with run defense, Smith had run stops for gains of three, two, one and zero.

Daryl Smith

Courtesy of ICON SMI

In pass coverage, Smith snuffed out a screen pass and — with some help from defensive lineman Terrence Cody — he stopped the play for a loss of two yards. When in direct coverage, he allowed two catches for 19 yards and one first down.

Blitzing, Smith was able to record a sack and another quarterback hit. These two came on back-to-back plays in the second half. The first time, he blitzed up the middle and his pressure forced Campbell to throw the ball away just before getting hit. The following play, Smith came through the middle again as the center was occupied with another defender. Taking Campbell down for a loss of 13 on third and 10, Smith forced the Browns to punt with just over one minute left in the first half. This gave the Ravens the ball back and allowed them to score before halftime.

Smith was also penalized for unnecessary roughness when he tackled a wide receiver to the ground when the receiver didn’t have the ball. The pass was thrown to this receiver and Smith couldn’t see whether it was caught or not so he tackled him like he was supported to. This was a bad call, as it wasn’t late and Smith was doing his job by tackling the receiver.

Terrell Suggs
For the seventh time in eight games, Suggs has recorded a sack and this one came on the first play of the game. Jones flushed Campbell out of the pocket towards Suggs and he finished him off for a loss of five, starting the game off right for the Ravens — though things soon came apart.

Other than this, Suggs didn’t apply much pressure, but you have to remember that he was going up against All-Pro Joe Thomas (Suggs’ sack came when he went against right tackle Mitchell Schwartz). In week two, Suggs got the better of Thomas so it makes sense that Thomas got the better of Suggs this time around as they are both All-Pro players.

With seven tackles though, Suggs was active in the run game as usual and had run stops for gains of two, two, zero and zero.

A few times, Suggs dropped into pass coverage and he gave up a completion one of these times: a gain of five on a second and six to the running back.

While Suggs made an impact on the game, his pass rushing partner Elvis Dumervil has nowhere to be found all game long and didn’t even get into the box score. This can’t happen again.

Number one cornerback Lardarius Webb has struggled in his return from his second ACL surgery and the Browns attacked him this week with success. Allowing five passes for 71 yards and three first downs, the Browns went after him early and often. The first two of the first downs that he allowed went for gains of 32 and 27. On an important fourth and one with three minutes left in the game, Webb was beaten for a gain of three. Also, on Davone Bess‘ second touchdown catch, Webb had his ankles broken by Bess with a nasty juke move (gif).

Jimmy Smith, the number two cornerback, had a more successful day in coverage, but left the game and didn’t return due to a groin strain. When he was in the game, he allowed three passes to be completed against him for 26 yards and one first down. He made a good tackle on a third and goal play from the five-yard line when he pushed out a receiver at the one-yard line after allowing a catch. The Browns went for it and scored, but without Smith’s play, the Browns would have already scored.

Nickel cornerback Corey Graham and the toughest game as he gave up three catches for 25 yards and two touchdowns. Starting with the one that didn’t go for a touchdown, Graham had good coverage on a short crossing route and made the tackle right after the completion stopping the play for a gain of four. On the first touchdown, Bess beat Graham on an out route on the aforementioned fourth and goal. Bess also caught the second touchdown that Graham allowed out another out route. Bess faked inside with a jab-step and on this move, Graham fell as he tried to adjust when he saw it was a fake. A few yards downfield, Bess made Webb whiff as well. Graham had a good pass breakup when he jumped in front of a slant routine and swatted it down. When Campbell tried to scramble for a first down on a third and four, Graham was there to stop him for no gain. He also had a special teams tackle on the opening kickoff.

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