Here is my thoughts on the Ravens vs Bengals game from week 5. We analyze all the star players and their performances.
Shutting down Mixon
The Ravens have struggled defensively to stop opposing running backs in the passing game. In all but the Texans game, the Ravens had given up over 100 yards a game to opposing running backs. This wasn’t the case against the Bengals. The Ravens held Joe Mixon to 35 receiving yards, 32 of which came in garbage time in the fourth quarter. On the ground, Mixon put up 59 yards on 24 carries. In his previous game against the Jaguars, Mixon put up almost three times that yardage on 25 carries.
The Ravens defensive line was physical and dominated the Bengals offensive line.
I’ve been critical of Pernell McPhee and Jaylon Ferguson all season long. But against the Bengals, they were both better. Pernell McPhee was sensational. He had four quarterback hits, a sack, five solo tackles, and a deflection. This was all on just 35 snaps or 52% of the Ravens defensive snaps. Ferguson played 24 snaps, which was 35% of the Ravens defensive snaps. He recorded three solo tackles, three tackling assists, and a tackle for a loss. Ferguson had the third most combined tackles on the Ravens, and McPhee had the fourth most (tied with DeShon Elliott and Marlon Humphrey.
Lamar Jackson missed two days of practice last week because of a knee issue. He was back for Friday’s practice and was a full participant in the practice. Since the Ravens were playing the Bengals, I assumed the Ravens would rely heavily on their running game to protect Jackson. Instead, they decided to have Jackson throw 37 passes (There were more than 37 passing plays called. The Bengals sacked Jackson once.
It’s tough to tell which of the plays are designed run or pass plays because Lamar Jackson can and does go off-script based on the defensive front on the given play.) Twenty-eight of the 37 passes were in the first half, nine of which were on the two-minute drives at the end of the first half. Despite an abundance of passing attempts, Jackson completed just 19 passes for 180 yards. He did throw two touchdowns while being held in check on the ground for just three yards on two carries.
The Ravens continued to neglect Patrick Ricard. He played in just 17 offensive snaps. According to sharpfootballstats.com, the Ravens have used four personnel groupings 10+ times in 2020. Of those. The most successful personnel grouping is the 22 personnel followed by the 11 and then the 21 personnel. (The first number refers to the number of running backs, and the second number refers to the number of tight ends. Hence, the 22 personnel features two running backs, two tight ends, and one wide receiver). Yet the Ravens are only running the 22 personnel on nineteen percent of their plays.
Defensively, Wink Martindale confused Joe Burrow as the Ravens totaled sevens sacks. They are the first team in NFL history to have five defensive backs record a sack.
Jackson had numerous opportunities against the Bengals. He targeted Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown 19 times, accounting for 12 receptions. Jackson had wide-open receivers all over the field, which he ignored. On a 3rd down he had a low high option with Devin Duvernay coming across on a drag route, and Mark Andrews on a deeper over. Duvernay was open underneath at the first down marker, but Jackson chose to target Andrews in tight coverage. The pass was incomplete. In that situation, quarterbacks are normally told to take the low option.
This has been an issue dating back to last year. Jackson has been ignoring open receivers in favor of one or two favorite targets (namely Andrews and Brown), who aren’t necessarily open. Given Jackson’s work ethic, I thought this would improve over time, but it hasn’t. Jackson needs to spread the ball around to his other targets. Opposing defenses are expecting Jackson to only throw to a couple of players. Bengals safety Jessie Bates said in an interview that the Ravens primarily feed Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown the ball. That has to change if the Ravens want to make a deep postseason run. What works against the hapless Bengals won’t work against the premier teams around the league.
The Ravens need to stop throwing the ball on first down. On first downs Jackson completed only three of his nine passes.
Jackson looked off. He threw multiple balls that should have been intercepted, and it looked like he wasn’t seeing defenders. Jackson will bounce back, and his unimpressive performance likely had to do with his knee injury, and he missed practice time.
The Ravens had technical difficulties during the game, and there were a couple of times throughout the game when the Ravens sideline couldn’t communicate to Jackson. Jackson called the plays on those plays. There’s no way to know if Jackson called passing or running plays. (Given Jackson’s drive to improve, I think he called passing plays, but this is just a guess.)
Marlon Humphrey shadowed Tyler Boyd all day. Humphrey held Boyd to just four receptions for 42 yards.
A.J. Green looks like a shadow of his former dominant self. Green didn’t record a reception, and he left the game several times because of injury.
Patrick Queen was sensational. He recorded nine combined tackles, a quarterback hit, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and a defensive touchdown.
Justin Tucker missed a 61 yard field goal, wide right.
This is my analysis of the Ravens vs Bengals game from last week.