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Article Week One Preview: Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins

Discussion in 'PurpleFlock News' started by 29BmoreBird22, Sep 6, 2019.

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    Oh baby, opening day is finally here. For a second or two, I doubted if this day would ever come. It has been EIGHT months since the Ravens untimely exit in the wild card round of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Chargers and SEVEN months since the world has been blessed with a meaningful football game in the Super Bowl, even if it was a snooze-fest. I doubted even further when the reports of Hurricane Dorian slamming Florida surfaced. But alas, dear Baltimore Ravens fans- we can rest easy knowing that at 1:00PM (EST) on Sunday morning, the Ravens will be facing off against the Miami Dolphins. The (roughly) 240 day drought of no meaningful Baltimore Ravens football is finally coming to an end.

    After (roughly) 240 days, Ravens fans will finally be able to see the progress of their team that has been building ever since the wild card round. Ravens fans will finally get to see their new fan favorites, like Earl Thomas and Marquise Brown, take the field and fully embody what it means to be a Baltimore Raven. But most importantly, Ravens fans will be able to see the Ravens return to a winning culture of football, led by no other than second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson.

    Without further ado, let us take a look at the story lines and the match-ups that will lead the Baltimore Ravens to victory over the Miami Dolphins in week one.

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    How Does Lamar Jackson Look Against the Miami Dolphins Secondary?:

    All offseason long we have heard about how Lamar Jackson has been improving as a passer and working on the accuracy issues that plagued him in his rookie season. Lamar Jackson spent most of the offseason working with private trainers and quarterbacks coaches, when he was not working with the Ravens coaches, of course, working on his footwork, his grip and hand placement, and setting his base when throwing, three things that could drastically improve Jackson’s ability to put the ball where he wants to. This Sunday, Jackson will finally be able to show in a full game worth of action that he has in fact improved and prove to the doubters that he is indeed a real quarterback.

    The test on Sunday will be a tough one for Jackson. Despite a lack of talent across the board at almost all other positions, the Miami Dolphins do sport some really good players in the secondary by the names of Xavien Howard and Minkah Fitzpatrick. Howard was rewarded this offseason with a brand new, fat contract that made him the highest paid cornerback in the NFL, rewarding the young man for a season that saw him snag seven interceptions, a league high, a Pro Bowl nod, and a 2nd team All-Pro nomination. Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins 2018 first round draft pick, did not have the same accolades awarded to him, but he was a true jack of all trades, master of all. Fitzpatrick spent time at outside cornerback, slot cornerback, and free safety last year, excelling at all three spots, but truly making his mark by having one of the greatest slot cornerback seasons the NFL has ever seen from a rookie. With all of that said, an NFL secondary is more than just two players.

    While it may have sounded a little bit like Jackson will be limited in his opportunities to pass the ball due to the blanket coverage of Howard and Fitzpatrick, this is not true at all- in fact, Jackson will have plenty of chances. For as great as Howard’s 2018 season was on paper, he is still a player that struggles mightily with penalties, getting too grabby at the top of routes, especially when matched up with receivers in press man coverage. Can he keep his hands to himself when facing off with someone as fast and as quick as Marquise Brown? Eric Rowe, the poster boy for an injury waiting to happen, is largely just a mediocre corner. A journey-man at this point, Rowe has never truly made a splash in the NFL to this point. Bobby McCain is making the transition to be a safety, a position he has never played at the NFL level. And while Dolphins fans LOVE to hype him up, Reshad Jones has not been the same player that he was in 2016 and prior. Jones is still an amazing box defender and a great run stuffer, but he has regressed as an all-around safety these past two years to the point that many speculated that he could be cut. For all the talent the Dolphins have on the backend, they still have their fair share of weaknesses.

    There are definitely holes in this Miami Dolphins secondary; it will be up to Lamar Jackson to expose them.

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    Can the Baltimore Ravens Manufacture a Pass Rush Against a Porous Miami Dolphins Offensive Line?:

    If there was one area of concern that stood out above all else for the 2019 Baltimore Ravens, it would have to be the pass rush. The Ravens failed to effectively build upon and improve a lackluster pass rush and actually seemingly regressed on paper.

    I know what everyone is going to say- the Ravens pass rush was not mediocre in 2018! I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it truly was. That 11th overall ranking and 43 sack finish is a bit misleading when you consider the Tennessee Titans gifted the Ravens an 11 sack performance. That performance was an absolute anomaly and boosted the rankings to a place that possibly created a false sense of how good the pass rush was. But for as lackluster as 2018 was, 2019, on paper, looks drastically worse. The Ravens lost Terrell Suggs and Z’Darius Smith. Smith played just about everywhere on the Ravens defense as a pass rusher and led the team in sacks with 8.5. Suggs, while he may have massively regressed as the year progressed, contributed another 7.0 sacks on the year. Between the two, the Ravens lost 15.5 sacks and over one-third of the pass rush from 2018.

    So surely the Ravens would go heavy in investing in the pass rush and really attempt to rectify the issue that was seemingly growing worse every day, right? Wrong. The only notable move the Ravens made was bringing back Pernell McPhee, a former Ravens favorite who played with the team from 2011 to 2014. Is McPhee going to solve the Ravens pass rushing woes? Not likely. McPhee, after leaving Baltimore, failed to top his career high of 7.5 sacks, accumulating 6.0, 4.0, and 4.0 sacks in three injury plagued seasons with the Chicago Bears before being ultimately cut. McPhee then had an opportunity to show that he still had it with the Washington Redskins, whom he played in 13 games for in 2018. Did he take full advantage of this opportunity? Nope. Instead, McPhee failed to record a single sack. Yikes. Yep… that was the Ravens only real move of the 2018 offseason as far as the pass rush was concerned. For now, the Ravens will be relying on Matthew Judon, who has a career high of 8.0 sacks in 2017, and Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser to step up, two third year players with a combined 5.5 sacks between them. It will take A LOT of creativity on the part of Wink Martindale to form any semblance of a pass rush this year.

    Martindale, however, may not have to reach too far into his bag of tricks because the Miami Dolphins are going to be trotting out five traffic cones, I mean offensive lineman, that could rival the 2018 Houston Texans or Arizona Cardinals in terms of sheer putridness. After the trade of star left tackle Laremy Tunsil and the departure of former first round right tackle Ju’Wuan James, the Miami Dolphins, from left to right, will be sending out: Julien Davenport-Michael Dieter-Daniel Kilgore-Shaq Calhoun-Jesse Davis. To be fair, that offensive line would still be horrendous with Laremy Tunsil and Ju’Wuan James, but without one of the best pass blocking left tackles in the NFL and a steady presence at right tackle, this offensive line might actually get a player killed. I do not know if it will be Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen (RIP: after coming from the Cardinals in 2018, this is what he gets for a team?), or Kenyan Drake, but there is a chance that at least one does not last the season behind this offensive line.

    Let us just break down how bad this offensive line is for a second: Davenport was formerly a member of the Houston Texans who led the league in sacks allowed in 2018 and finished second in sacks allowed in 2017. Dieter, along with Calhoun, is a rookie being thrust into action likely before he is ready. Kilgore was traded along with a seventh round pick to the Dolphins in 2018 in exchange for a seventh round pick. How many spots did the San Francisco 49ers move up as a part of this trade? Four spots… in the seventh round. Kilgore would play four games for the Dolphins before tearing his pectoral muscle and finishing the year on IR. Lastly, we have Davis- a career guard who briefly started half a season at right tackle for the Dolphins in 2017, but has otherwise been a career guard on one of the worst pass blocking offensive lines in the NFL. Simply put, the Miami Dolphins 2019 offensive line is BAD.

    The Baltimore Ravens pass rush should have a field day and hopefully use this game as a confidence booster for the young players. Hopefully a weak offensive line to face off against to start the season acts as a stepping stone for the rest of the season.

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    Which Quarterback Shows Up for the Miami Dolphins: Ryan Fitzmagic or Ryan Fitztragic?:

    Let me start this off by saying that the Baltimore Ravens secondary is the positional grouping I am 100% the most excited for, after Lamar Jackson, of course. The newly signed Earl Thomas has the potential to push the Ravens secondary into the record books. No, really, the secondary is that good. The Ravens will be returning a top 10 cornerback in Marlon Humphrey, a former top 10, when healthy, cornerback in Jimmy Smith, who really came on strong to finish out 2018, and a top 32 cornerback and iron man in Brandon Carr. Opposite Thomas, Tony Jefferson will finally get the chance to return to his role as more of a box safety who supports the run and covers tight ends man to man. In 2018, the lack of athleticism from Eric Weddle often left the Ravens using Jefferson in a deep centerfielder role and while it clearly worked out okay for Jefferson, it was just that: okay. Now, the Ravens are able to put Thomas into the true centerfielder role that he has excelled at throughout his career and return Jefferson to the role that brought him stardom as a member of the Arizona Cardinals.

    Now, with all of that said… None of it actually matters. Ryan Fitzpatrick is such an oddity in the sense that who he is facing on any given Sunday does not seem to make a bit of difference to his play. It is what has kept him in the NFL for 14 years, despite playing for a whopping eight teams. Despite being a total coin flip player, Fitzpatrick has continued to show something that keeps teams coming and that something is “Fitzmagic.” Fitzmagic is the quarterback that leads a red hot offense to inexplicable highs and throws dimes all over the opposing defense, slinging the ball like a generational talent. Fitzmagic plays far above his expected level and leads his teams to wins that really should not be happening. However, Fitzmagic always gives yield to “Fitztragic.” Fitztragic is the quarterback that takes over when the magic has worn off. Fitztragic, despite being a Harvard graduate, makes dumb, boneheaded decisions and makes NFL fans ask the question of, “Why is he even on the team? How is he still in the NFL?” Much like Thanos, Fitztragic is inevitable.

    So which Fitzpatrick shows up this Sunday? Is it going to be Fitzmagic who lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a week one victory over the rivaled New Orleans Saints while throwing for over 400 yards and four touchdowns? Is it going to be the Fitzmagic that showed up the very next week and threw for 400 yards, again, and four more touchdowns against the Philadelphia Eagles? Will it be the Fitztragic that eventually slowed down and threw for just 126 yards and an interception against the Chicago Bears in week four? Will it be the Fitztragic that threw for 400 yards against the Washington Redskins, but had three interceptions? Or will it be that weird hybrid that threw for 400 yards and three touchdowns against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but really hindered his team’s chances of winning with three interceptions?

    The short answer is that I have no idea, but if I were a betting man, I would bet on Fitztragic showing up on Sunday. In Tampa Bay, Fitzmagic had Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, OJ Howard, and Cameron Brate to throw to. And while the offensive line was far from amazing, they were hardly the worst unit in the league. In Miami, Fitztragic will be throwing to DeVante Parker, Jakeem Grant, Albert Wilson, and Mike Gisecki. Well, I suppose he might be throwing, but his offensive line allowing him enough time to actually complete a pass is up in the air.

    Final Score Prediction:

    Unless you are truly the biggest of Miami Dolphins homers or the biggest of Baltimore Ravens haters, I cannot reasonably see anyone thinking the Ravens will not win this game, handily. I said it once before and I will say it again- the Dolphins might have the least talented roster in the NFL. Expect the Ravens to more than cover the seven point spread.

    Baltimore Ravens: 31, Miami Dolphins: 6

    Stat of the Game Prediction:

    Much has been made of Lamar Jackson’s rookie season in which he only threw for over 200 yards a single time and averaged roughly 16 rushes per game in games he started. Most people are very quick to call Jackson a running back and are very quick to dismiss his talent as a passer. On Sunday, I expect Jackson to begin shutting up the haters.

    I predict Lamar Jackson will complete at least 60% of his passes for at least 250 yards and three total touchdowns, two passing touchdowns, all while running 10 or less times for less than 60 yards. Belee dat.

    [​IMG]
     
    #1 29BmoreBird22, Sep 6, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
    • Like Like x 4
    • Informative Informative x 1
  2. Wild card round*

    Great write up
     
  3. nice article dude - thanks for posting

    I think more than seeing how lamar does against the dolphins secondary - im almost more interested in just seeing what our offence looks like, who the left guard is, how much pre-snap motion we use, how much RPO stuff we use, how much time lamar spends under centre, how much we see of the rookie skill position guys etc... how much designed running we ask lamar to do

    there's a lot of new stuff on this offence and i cant wait to see what we've cooked up

    with the pass rush there's obvious trepidation but im more positive than some - pernell mcphee didnt have a sack in 2018 but he played well and created pressure opportunities for others - i expect to see him slot into the ZDS role (formerly the mcphee role) and get moved all across the defensive front to create 1v1 matchups for other guys - im also positive because from what i saw this offseason the 3 guys who had the best preseasons of any ravens players were Tyus, Timmy and Pat Ricard - all 3 are players who add value to our pass rush and i expect to see them in the rotation far more than they were last year - timmy looked to have turned the corner to begin last year before getting injured and then falling by the wayside, tyus might have had his best offseason yet and looks more explosive than he has before and Ricard is going to get snaps on defence this year - he's going to be active on gamedays and i think he takes the snaps that we as a fanbase expected willie henry to take

    that being said i fully agree with you that this is the perfect team to face to get healthy with our pass rush - likewise going to arizona in week 2 will help too

    with regards to fitzmagic, michael crawford said something interesting on twitter in the last day or so - fitzpatrick has thrived on deep throws and taking risks and going of script when he's shredded teams in the past but with the new england influence, the bad OL and the speed they have at wr its expected that their offence is more going to be based around quick strike and short throws which i dont think will suit fitzpatrick and will allow humphrey and thomas and jefferson to get after those receivers but we'll see
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  4. Thank you- it has been promptly fixed.
     
  5. @rossihunter2- I'm really interested in seeing all of that, too, but I would be lying if I said I'm not excited to see how Lamar does as a passer above all else. I know Lamar Jackson can run the RPO, I know he can run the ball, I know he can scramble- I want to see how he's progressed in terms of command of the offense and the ability to hit throws outside the numbers. But seeing how much he plays under center is a really big thing, too. The Ravens were almost exclusively in pistol/shotgun with him in 2018.

    I almost wrote about the offensive line, but I try to limit myself to three match-ups/story lines per article. But I am waiting on pins and needles to see how Matt Skura has progressed and to see the left guard situation. I think I read somewhere that Roman really likes his guards to be able to pull, so Eluemunor's total lack of athleticism really made him the odd man out at LG, but he was at least a known commodity. We really don't know what we have with the other guys, unless that Guy is James Hurst, in which case he's totally atrocious.

    I'm just cautiously waiting with the pass rush. I'm trying not to get too far ahead of myself with them because I am really excited to see what Williams and Bowser can offer in a more expanded role, but until they go out and show it on the field consistently, I can't get too high on them. But based off of preseason, I am super excited for Patrick Ricard. He was dominating the opposing offensive lines in the preseason, and while they were backups, he looked totally like a man among boys.

    Oh yeah, I watched a few TB games just because they happened to be on and it was amazing to see Fitzpatrick just air it out and have such consistent production from these deep, downfield plays. Like, that's not gonna happen in Miami and it's certainly not gonna happen against the Ravens.
     
    #5 29BmoreBird22, Sep 6, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
    • Like Like x 1
  6. great article bird. Thanks for publishing
     
  7. I think wink is taking more of BB type defense with just more and complex looks. Im talking as far as having a great secondary with mediocre pass rush and lbs. if you think about it, BB never really has a great front seven but you can think of all the great cbs and safties he has had.
     
  8. Mmmmm, I'm not sure I'd say that BB hasn't really had front seven talent. He's usually had "a guy." Whether it was like Bruschi, Vrabel, McGinnest, Seymour, Jones, Hightower, Wilfork, he's generally had at least one leader and a wing man, but I do agree that BB does find a way to get the most out of lesser known, smaller name players.
     
  9. i mean yeah i clearly buried the lede lol with lamar - clearly how he passes is going to be the most intriguing (and hopefully exciting) thing to see

    i think with pat ricard it was clearly a big deal that he got the time with the starters in preseason game 3 and continued to bully them as if they were the backups - he's not got the body type to hold up at the point of attack in the run game but he has the quickness and pad level to bully a defender with explosion in passing situations as a 3tech and he saves a roster spot by playing on both offence and defence
     
  10. How are Miami's LBs this year because the Ravens typically have blown out Miami just exclusively throwing to TEs every bloody play and it just seems to work?
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. I don't want it to seem like I'm discrediting the other things that you said because I'm absolutely not. I think those are extremely important things to watch for because it's going to define the Greg Roman offense and I think that's a huge deal. Can Baltimore finally find a coordinator worth sticking with, one that will develop Lamar to his full potential? Or will Baltimore be stuck with the Cameron's, Marty's, and Trestman's of the world?

    I actually didn't watch the third preseason game because Lamar wasn't playing and so I just kinda checked out, but that is really exciting to hear with regards to Pat Ricard. I'm really excited to see what he can do. Like you said, someone has to fill in for Willie Henry and Ricard absolutely could be that option.
     
  12. yeah no worries i didnt get that impression at all - was just conceding your point lol

    yeah im not gonna lie in my ideal world pat ricard has more snaps on defence than he does on offence - it would mean he's added value to our DL rotation in a way that pierce and williams and mack cant

    i worry about how short we are at 5tech though if wormley goes down
     
  13. There's technically just five full time defensive lineman on the roster right now, right?
     
  14. I meant to answer this earlier and forgot, but you ever seen that Spongebob episode where Spongebob and Patrick get married with the clam? And then Spongebob shows Patrick all the diapers? That's Miami's roster and the linebackers definitely added to it.

    For reference:
    [​IMG]
     
  15. yeah including ricard who's also our fullback, and daylon mack a rookie who's play-style fits better at nose tackle - we're gonna see a lot of 2 and 1 down lineman fronts
     
  16. Yeah, to say the least, I'm uneasy about five down lineman, but I suppose they view Ricard and McPhee as lineman even if they aren't listed as ones.
     
  17. given that we have 3 DL on the field less than 20% of the snaps im not sure its a problem and even when we do run a 4 man front properly we often only have 1 DL on the field because we have a OLB in rushing inside
     
  18. I didn't know the 20% stat, but that makes sense. That's nice to know.
     
  19. it's been posted a bit while you were away but i think the actual number is something like 17% time spent in base defence in 2018
     

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