The Baltimore Ravens head into the bye week with a 5-1 record following a 30-28 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. The victory was the Ravens shakiest effort of the young season — conceding 14 late points and coming within a two-point conversion of their first overtime game of the season. Baltimore led the entire game but made a few crucial mistakes that allowed Carson Wentz and company back into the game.
The Ravens victory over the Eagles will go down as a win, but it was another reminder that head coach John Harbaugh‘s team has a lot to work ahead. Since the beginning of the year, offensive coordinator Greg Roman‘s play-calling has been heavily criticized and Baltimore’s seasonal high of 12 penalties for 132 yards last Sunday did not help. Their identity of the team that relentlessly ran the ball in all circumstances from 2019 has been challenged on many occasions and though they have lost just one game in 2020, should be performing a lot better as an overall team.
A bye week right now might be exactly what the Baltimore Ravens need. During his tenure, Harbaugh and the Ravens are one of the best teams in the NFL coming off of the bye. He is 10-1 over his 11 previous seasons. The Ravens will be entering the toughest part of their schedule when they resume playing Week 8 and need to make dramatic improvements as a team.
Baltimore has played well to this point in 2020 but need to get back to looking like Super Bowl contenders. There are strengths and weaknesses, like any team, and Harbaugh needs to iron them during their upcoming bye week. This is the Baltimore Ravens 2020 bye week report.
Baltimore Ravens Bye Week Report 2020
The Strength: The Secondary
The Ravens biggest strength to this point in the season has easily been their secondary. Even with the loss of one of the best safeties in the NFL at the beginning of the season, Earl Thomas, Baltimore’s unit has not missed a beat. Anchored by Defensive Player of the Year candidate Marlon Humphrey, the group of defensive backs is debatably the best in the NFL and have propelled the Ravens to be the number-one scoring defense in the NFL.
Baltimore’s passing defense currently ranks a modest 13th but what they lack in yardage defense, they make up in turnovers. The secondary has helped contribute in a big way to the Ravens leading the league in turnover differential (+6) and perhaps even more impressively, has forced an insane 13 forced fumbles – recovering eight – in just six games. The next closest team, the Cleveland Browns, has forced seven. This ability to jar the ball loose is a staple of the secondary. Each Humphrey, Deshon Elliott, and Chuck Clark have multiple forced fumbles — with the unit as a whole forcing nine amongst the defensive backs.
The secondary’s primary responsibility is to get in the way of the opposing quarterback through the air but the Ravens unit has done a great job of stopping quarterbacks before they even get the ball out of their hands. As a team, the Ravens are second in the NFL in sacks (22) but it has largely been due to the pressure their secondary gets. Baltimore’s defensive backs have eight sacks — as many or more than eight other teams in the NFL have overall.
At the beginning of the year, the secondary was supposed to be the best performing unit on the team and they are delivering on their ability. They will be tested with a tougher gauntlet of teams following their bye week but have proven they can be one of/if not the best position groups, at any position, in the NFL.
The Weakness: The Passing Game
Following Baltimore’s Week 6 win, NFL analyst Ryan Clark made a number of strong comments pertaining to Lamar Jackson, Greg Roman, and the entire Ravens offense. “Greg Roman is out, trying to figure out, how can I make myself more attractive for head coaching jobs. By fixing Lamar Jackson” the former NFL defensive back said. “You’re not fixing him. You’re breaking him.”
Whether Clark’s theory about Roman holds water or not, it cannot be denied that the Ravens offense has a number of issues right now. The passing game under Jackson was not a problem in 2019 but has become one in 2020. The Ravens are currently the NFL’s second-worst passing offense. They are average 177.5 yards a game on 27.5 passing attempts per game. In 2019, Baltimore averaged the exact same number of passing attempts per game but averaged 24.1 more passing yards a game. Jackson’s touchdown percentage has also dropped from 9.0 in 2019 to 6.2 in 2020.
The Ravens do not throw the ball a lot and when they do, they’re not nearly efficient enough. Jackson and company were supposed to improve as an offense and, at least statistically, have regressed to this point. The Ravens have the 10th highest drop rate in the NFL (5.5 percent) despite having the fourth-least receptions. However, it’s not for a lack of trying. The Ravens are averaging the third-most intended air yards per pass but Jackson is still just 22nd in passing yards per attempt.
If the Ravens want to get back to being the lethal offense they were in 2019, they need to find new ways to create offense in the passing game and clean up their obvious errors.
Room For Improvement: Situational Offense
While the scoring offense is not a huge problem for the Ravens, their situational offense has been very underwhelming.
This was perhaps best demonstrated when Roman elected to try and bring the Eagles game to halftime this past Sunday. Following a crucial 4th and inches stop from the Ravens own 20-yard line, Roman elected to try and bring the game to half with 57 seconds and two timeouts left. The Ravens then ran the ball three straight times, despite the Eagles having all of their timeouts. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson then used two of his timeouts to give the ball back to Wentz and the offense with 16 seconds left. In those 16 seconds, Wentz was able to get the Eagles into field goal range.
While this entire series of events did not end up hurting the Ravens, it was just another example of the Ravens shooting themselves in the foot during clutch time. Baltimore finished third overall in yards per play (6.1) last season, and Roman did not trust his offense enough to give them a chance to score with almost a minute remaining in the half. He also chose to essentially abandon the run against the Kansas City Chiefs despite the Ravens rushing attack finishing the game with 7.5 yards per carry.
Baltimore had a number of poorly played drives against the Eagles, from both a coaching and discipline perspective. Poorly timed rushes led to the Ravens posting a season-high six 3-and-outs while 11 offensive penalties led to the offense being continually put in bad positions. Against Kansas City, Baltimore had three penalties leading to first downs on defense while committing multiple penalties that led to important losses of yardage on offense.
Schedule After Baltimore Ravens Bye Week
While the Ravens haven’t played an incredibly easy schedule to start, they definitely will be challenged more coming out of their bye. Baltimore comes off of their bye during Week 8 and has one of their biggest tests of the season against their biggest rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are undefeated at 5-0 this season and hold one of the only defenses in the NFL that can hang with the Ravens.
From Week 8 to Week 12, the Ravens play the hardest part of their schedule. Over that five-week stretch, Baltimore will face Pittsburgh twice, the Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, and Tenessee Titans. The four teams currently combined for a record of 16-5. Each team has been tested in a limited capacity, from an opposing team standpoint, but each has great strengths. Similar to the Steelers, the Colts defense has been their strongest side of the ball. Indianapolis currently has the top-ranked passing defense in the NFL as well as the third-best total and rushing defense. The Patriots are not really elite on either side of the ball but are a more balanced team from a stastical standpoint than the Steelers or Colts. They also still have one of the best coaches of all-time in Bill Belichick.
Perhaps the most important game during the Ravens next five-game span is their matchup with the Titans. Their Week 11 matchup will be a rematch of the 2019 AFC Divisional round clash in which Tennessee came into M&T Bank Stadium to upset a heavily foured Ravens team. The Ttitans are crusing again in 2020 at 5-0 and currently hold the league’s number-two yardage and scoring offense. Ryan Tannehill has brought his stellar form from late in last season back in 2020 and with his number-one receiver A.J. Brown finally healthy, look poised for maybe their best regular season finish since 2008. Jackson and the Ravens have likely had this game circled on their schedule since its release.
Final Bye Week Thoughts
Baltimore is far from a perfect team thus far in 2020. Thier five wins have all came in games in which they should have won. If the Ravens are to get back to their elite form from last season and take the next step forward towards contending for a Super Bowl, their offense needs to come together and find the crux of thier struggles. It has been a mix of everything up until this point. Jackson and company have what it takes on paper to beat any team in the NFL but their inconsitencies have been what has made them vulnerable against less than stellar teams.
The Ravens are still in a position to win their division and qualify for the playoffs for a third year in a row. Both the passing and run game will likely find their stride in the second half of the year. Each have had their moments during the 2020 season so far but both need to become fluent with eachother if the Ravens are to improve their offesnse as a whole. They also have the luxury of one of the best defenses in the NFL helping them control their time of possession. If they string both together at the same time, Baltimore will likely get back to looking like Super Bowl contenders after their bye week and into the playoffs.
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