It’s been easy to predict little about this Ravens season. On offense, he has traded a run-heavy approach for a more pass-happy attack. On defence, he has given up on bigger plays than anyone could have imagined. From week to week, and sometimes half to half, they can go from dominant to dormant.
But overall, the 2021 Ravens have been led by the usual suspects in Baltimore, with some of the team’s stars being spared from injuries, both good and bad.
With the Ravens playing nine games into an extended 17-game regular-season schedule, Week 11 becomes something of a halfway point. As the team prepares for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears, here’s who qualified for the midseason superlatives:
Most Valuable Raven: Lamar Jackson
As long as the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player in Baltimore is healthy and active, don’t expect this answer to change. According to Sports Info Solutions, he’s been the lone bright spot in the Ravens’ running game this season, averaging 7.8 yards per carry-on scramble. He has taken a step forward as a passer, matching his 2020 accuracy (64.4%) despite leading the NFL in average targeted air yards (10.1).
No other team asks so much about its quarterback, and no other player in Baltimore takes on so much responsibility. Jackson is on pace to set career highs for interceptions and sacks he throws, but there’s a reason he’s still in the running for his second league MVP award in three years.
Finest Raven: Marquis “Hollywood” Brown
Maybe the wide receiver hasn’t improved as much since he’s been healthy, but the difference between Year 2 and Year 3 is huge. With 719 yards in nine games, the Browns would clock 1,278 yards in a 16-game season, the most in the Ravens’ history. He needs just 50 receiving yards on Sunday to match his career-high totals he set last year.
Despite the occasional fall, Brown has zoomed past off-season questions about whether he can ever be a top-dog wide receiver on a respectable passing attack. Los Angeles Rams’ Cooper Kupp, Kansas City Chiefs’ Tyrek Hill and Brown are the only players in the NFL to have at least 50 catches, 700 receiving yards and six touchdowns this season. The former first-round pick’s elite speed makes him a persistent deep threat, and his better trajectory gives him more opportunities to push for defense even after a catch.
Best Rookie: Odafe Oweh
The Ravens’ second first-round pick is cleared here on longevity grounds, over their former first-round pick, wide receiver Rashod Bateman. Penn State’s outside linebacker quarterback leads all NFL rookies under pressure (29), According to Pro Football Focus, and there are four sacks in nine games in total. Ove’s takeaway talent makes up for a defense that he mostly lacks, and he impresses with his ability to establish an edge as a run defender.
Bateman has no slouch either. After setting a career high for catches (six) and receiving yards (80) on Thursday against Miami, the former Minnesota star took 15 first downs this season and 18 catches for 241 yards Huh. Only one Ravens wide receiver in franchise history has racked up more receiving yards in his first four games – his teammate Brown (304), in 2019. What is missing from Bateman’s quick start is a touchdown catch.
Most Obvious Absence: Marcus Peters
This Ravens defense couldn’t find another ball hawk to replace Peters, who had torn his ACL a few days before the season opener. He had four interceptions in 14 games last season and three picks in his 10 games with the Ravens in 2019. Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale’s defense has just five interceptions this year.
The Ravens miss Peters’ on-field swagger and in-game intelligence, which sneaked into the secondary when he was healthy and locked inside. They also remember his lockdown ability. While cornerback Anthony Everett has played well opposite Marlon Humphrey, according to Pro Football Reference, the Ravens blitz rate has dropped to less than 35% this year, a significant drop-off that suggests they are leaving the defensive back on an island with are less comfortable.
Most Pleasant Surprise: Patrick McCarrick
Next to the Ravens, a former unapologetic free agent, was James Hurst, a jack-of-all-trades lineman whom the offense could reliably plug anywhere in the front. Athletically, he seemed best suited to the interior. But when Ronnie Stanley (ankle) was closed after 1 week, leaving Alejandro Villanueva to return to his more natural left, the Ravens needed a new bookend.
In stepped mackery, which last started with tackle in college. McCary was among the Ravens’ most consistent players, stable in both pass and run blocking, until he suffered an ankle injury until the Ravens lost to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 7. “I can’t ask for a better player out there right now,” coach John Harbaugh said of the third-year lineman in mid-October.
Biggest Disappointment: Injury’s timeline
The Ravens’ off-season hope was that Stanley (ankle) would be ready to open the season. At the end of August they expected tight end Nick Boyle (Knee) to be ready for the first week as well. At the end of October they expected defensive end Derek Wolff (back/hip) to play this season.
How much gamesmanship might have inspired those expectations is unclear. But as the Ravens enter Week 11, only one of those three expected starters, Boyle has a fair chance of playing Sunday in Chicago. Stanley underwent ankle surgery at the end of the season for the second year in a row last month. Harbaugh said on Monday that Wolff is not expected to return this season. Boyle was limited in practice last week, but he at least had time to increase his participation and get in shape for the game.
Best Single-Game Performance: Lamar Jackson vs. Indianapolis
The Ravens couldn’t run the ball in Week 5. He entered halftime with just one field goal. They are trailing the visiting Colts by 19 points in the third quarter and 16 in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, it didn’t matter, because they had Jackson at quarterback, and that was enough.
In a 31-25 overtime victory, Jackson finished 37-for-43 for 442 yards, four touchdowns and no interception, and added 14 carries for a game-high 62 yards. He set a single-game franchise record for passing yards and became the first player in NFL history with at least 400 passing yards and a completion rate above 85% in a game. His 5-yard touchdown pass to the Browns in overtime marked the third-highest comeback in the Ravens’ history.
Best Play: Justin Tucker’s 66-yard field goal
The Ravens kicker was already the most accurate in NFL history. In the final seconds of a Week 3 comeback win over the Detroit Lions, he also hit the longest field goal in league history. Coming close to the effort as if it were a kickoff and Harbaugh had been called a “supernatural push”, Tucker knocked it far enough to bounce the ball off the crossbar for a 19–17 victory.
The record-breaking kick came in just three plays after the Ravens completed a fourth and -19 deep in their field. “When you have a kicker like that, you want to give them that kind of opportunity,” Harbaugh said. “It is just historic for him to come this way. Someone came up to me on the shore and said, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this before.’ It came to me immediately, because no one had done anything like this before.”
Worst game: Ja’Mar Chase’s 82-yard touchdown
Maybe no play has summed up the Ravens’ defensive struggles this season more than the back-breaking catch-and-run from Bengals wide receiver last month. With Cincinnati facing third and -2 from their 18-yard line and the Ravens trailing 20-17, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow looked to his right for the chase, running a quick in-breaking route. Had been.
Rookie cornerback Marlon broke away from Humphrey, secured the pass and was on his way. First, Chase broke a tackle from safety DeShawn Elliott, whose effort weakened Humphrey. Then security Chuck Clark could not corral the chase. Outside linebacker Justin Houston did not touch him. The chase would end with a career-high 201 receiving yards in the Bengals’ 41-17 win. Cincinnati covered more than 500 yards of the total offense, the second opponent in three weeks to do so against the Ravens.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
TV: Ch. 13, 9 radio: 97.9 FM, 1090 AM
Line: Ravens By 6