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Scouting Report: Ravens Offense Showing Little Schematic Change With Backup QB

As we’ve been doing for several years now, we’ll break down the Pittsburgh Steelers’ opponent each week, telling you what to expect from a scheme and individual standpoint. Like last year, Josh Carney and I will cover the opposing team’s defense. I will focus on scheme, Josh on the players.

Today, scouting the Baltimore Ravens’ offense.

ALEX’S SCHEME REPORT

RAVENS RUN GAME

It’s still strong a run game and the focus of the Ravens’ offense even if they don’t have Lamar Jackson in this game. They’re averaging 5.2 yards per carry, tied-2nd best in football while their 12 rushing touchdowns are inside the top ten. They have 63 runs of 10+ yards, second in football only trailing the Chicago Bears.

And that’s the thing. While they’re still a run-heavy team, so much of their production flows through Jackson. And as of this writing, I’m assuming he’s not playing this weekend. To be fair, the Ravens (as they always seem to do) have had a ton of backfield injuries but Jackson is their leader in carries (112), yards (764), and average (6.8) while his three rushing scores tie for the team lead. Of those 10+ runs, Jackson makes up 49.2% of them, his 31 third in the entire NFL. Huntley can run and he used his legs as an asset in Sunday’s win over Denver, scoring the game-winning TD on a designed QB run but he’s not Lamar. No one is.

In the backfield sits a combination of guys in part due to injuries suffered throughout the years by Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins. Dobbins remains out and last week against the Broncos, veteran Kenyan Drake logged 37% of the offensive snaps while Edwards and Justice Hill each logged 24%. On the season, Drake is second in rushing attempts and first among RBs. Like Pittsburgh, receivers get involved in the run game with WR Devin Duvernay recording 13 on the season including five of his last three games.

It’s a mix of zone and power but their power and gap runs is their bread and butter. They’re capable of pulling everyone: centers, guards, and tackles. They run a BASH concept, meaning the back runs away from the pullers, allowing the QB to give to the RB away from the flow if the defense bites or the QB can keep the ball and follow the pullers. Here’s an example.

2022 is the year of the QB sneak and the Ravens do it in short-yardage. But they won’t just barrel into closed A gaps. They work hard to find the bubble in the run game. They’ll hit the B or C gaps, wherever the defense isn’t. Two examples.

But like other teams, they’ll play off with with speed options, becoming more popular as the NFL pulls from the college game. Gotta defend the entire width of the field with the Ravens’ run game.

Some other offensive stats. They’re averaging 23.8 points per game, 12th in football. They’re scored 20+ in nine games this season but were held to just ten points against Denver, not finding the end zone until the final 30 seconds. They have a good third down offense, 43.8% (8th in NFL), but their red zone offense is pretty poor. 23rd in the league at 51.1%. They’re also +6 in turnover differential, 4th in football, so they’re winning that battle well and it’s a big reason why they’re 8-4.

Ravens’ Pass Game

Huntley is expected to make his 5th career start so he’s no stranger to being the guy. He also played the Steelers in last year’s finale so he’s familiar with Pittsburgh, too. Against the Broncos last week, Huntley kept the ball short with a high completion percentage, going 27/32 but averaging just 5.8 YPA and zero passing touchdowns. Pretty conservative gameplan. Should note WR James Proche threw a pass last week. Down 9-3 with 12:25 in the fourth quarter from the Broncos’ 29-yard line, Proche fired and was picked off in the end zone. With a backup QB, there’s an increased chance of some sort of trick pass.

TE Mark Andrews remains the team’s top receiver and one of the very best in football. Despite battling injuries this year, he still has a glistening 56/645/5 stat line and can take over games.

I watched every play of the Ravens’ game-winning drive and there was nothing wild about it. A lot of short throws to the back, a couple of Huntley’s scrambles, but they put a greater emphasis on isolating Andrews backside 3×1 to create 1v1 matchups. His speed and athleticism is a problem for linebackers, his size an issue for DBs. Based on leverage, they threw backshoulders and slants to him.

Few teams like to run benders as much as the Ravens, who love trying to get Andrews down the seam or coming across on over routes inside the 20.

Without any serious deep threats, they run a lot of crossers like their Yankee concept to try to win by beating the CBs leverage and putting zone defenders in conflict.

With Rashod Bateman out for the year, their top wide receivers are Duvernay (35/378/3 line) and Demarcus Robinson (33/338/1 line). Rookie TE Isaiah Likely has flashed and replaced Andrews well when he’s missed time. Likely is just a good football player, sort of their Connor Heyward and has caught 22 passes this season with two scores.

Josh’s Individual Report

It’s Ravens week, Steelers fans!

For the first time since Week 18 of the 2021 season, which happened to be the final regular season start of Ben Roethlisberger’s career, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens will square off in a key AFC North matchup.

This year though, the matchup lacks a bit of star power at the quarterback position with Roethlisberger off in retirement and Lamar Jackson expected to miss the game with a knee injury.

In steps Steelers rookie Kenny Pickett and do-everything Baltimore backup Tyler Huntley, who the Steelers are quite familiar with overall.

Though Jackson is a major piece and a true game-breaker, the Ravens won’t be losing much from a scheme standpoint with Huntley under center. He can run the same plays Jackson does and provide the same look Jackson does, which means the Ravens won’t skip a beat offensively.

Huntley is one of the better backups in the league at this point in his career. He has a strong arm and is a bit more accurate than Jackson and brings a bit more power to the field as a runner compared to Jackson.

 

He sees the field very well overall and never panics in big spots. He should be a starter somewhere in the league, but the Ravens are fortunate they have him as the backup.

At running back, the Ravens have had to deal with a number of injuries. Currently, J.K. Dobbins remains on the Reserve/Injured list, while Gus Edwards has been in and out of the lineup.

The loss of Dobbins is a major one, but the Ravens have such a terrific run game scheme that it doesn’t really matter.

 

Edwards remains that downhill bowling ball, one that dishes out punishment, consistently falls forward and really wears defenses down. The Ravens also have a power back in Mike Davis on the roster, but he doesn’t get much run at this point. He’s a capable back though and fits the style of the Ravens.

Kenyan Drake is the change of pace option for the Ravens behind Edwards. He can catch the football out of the backfield, can line up all over the formation and can really hit the home run. He’s been a solid piece for the Ravens this season, rushing for 421 yards and three scores on the year while adding 13 receptions for 69 yards and as score.

Justice Hill is starting to get more usage as well as the season gets later for the Ravens and they try and keep everyone as healthy as possible in the backfield. He remains a dynamic athlete, one with an extra gear in the open field.

At receiver, the Ravens have basically patched this thing together about as well as a team could with rubber bands and paper clips.

After losing Rashod Bateman to a season-ending foot injury, the Ravens signed veteran DeSean Jackson for the speed element and have leaned heavily on guys like Demarcus Robinson, Devin Duvernay and James Proche II lately.

Jackson can still get open and hit the home run. That will always be part of his game.

 

Robinson has emerged as one of Jackson’s top targets overall. He’s a sound route runner and consistently creates separation. We’ll see how he works with Huntley.

Duvernay has tapped into his big play potential on offense this season, which is a great sign for the Ravens. He’s always had that ability, just hasn’t had the chance to utilize it consistently offensively. He’s gotten his shot this season and is playing rather well.

Make no mistake though: the Ravens’ passing attack runs through tight end Mark Andrews. He’s one of the very best tight ends in football. Andrews is always open, has tremendous hands and is a load to handle in the open field in a run after catch capacity.

 

He will be heavily targeted on Sunday.

 

Baltimore likes to run a lot of 12 and 13 personnel with Isaiah Likely and Josh Oliver emerging as solid dual-threat options as receivers and blockers. Likely can really stretch the field, while Oliver is starting to become more like Nick Boyle, who remains one of the top blocking tight ends in football and still serves as essentially an extra lineman for the Ravens.

 

Speaking of linemen, the Ravens quietly have a good line again. Here’s how I expect them to line up left to right on Sunday:

LT — Ronnie Stanley
LG — Ben Powers
C — Tyler Linderbaum
RG — Kevin Zeitler
RT — Morgan Moses

Back after dealing with a number of injuries in recent seasons, Stanley is playing at a high level once again. When he’s right, he’s one of the top tackles in all of football.

After taking a chance on Tyler Linderbaum in the first round despite concerns about his size, the Ravens have been rewarded. Linderbaum is a great fit in the Ravens’ zone scheme. He is terrific athletically and can get to the second level consistently in the run game. He looks like a pillar for the Ravens.

Guards Ben Power and Kevin Zeitler are legitimate people movers in the run game. They play nasty and really win at the line of scrimmage.

The acquisition of Morgan Moses in the offseason has paid off. He’s provided steady football at right tackle, a position the Ravens have struggled with in recent seasons.

Special teams in Baltimore needs no real endorsement from me, or anyone for that matter.

Kicker Justin Tucker is a future Pro Football Hall of Famer. He’s one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history and can put points on the board from anyone midfield and in.

The Ravens made a change at punter this season, going with rookie Jordan Stout out of Penn State. He’s been terrific in his first year in the NFL, averaging 47.02 yards per punt on 43 punts, downing 20 inside the 20 yard line with a long of 69.

Huge leg.

Duvernay is the kick and punt returner. He’s terrifying in the open field. We’ll see what the Steelers deploy tactically against him. Hopefully it’s similar to what they did last week against the Falcons and Cordarrelle Patterson.

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