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5 Things We Learned From the Ravens’ Week 8 Loss to the Panthers

October 28, 2018 - 6:12 pm
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By Joe Schiller

1. A Makeshift Offensive Line Can’t Fully Compete

For the second straight week, the offensive line was without James Hurst and Alex Lewis. Rookie Bradley Bozeman played in a limited capacity and a makeshift unit had their weaknesses exposed.

There were missed blocks and blown assignments – most notably on Alex Collins’ first-quarter fumble. Ronnie Stanley seemed to escape a serious knee injury late in the game but there’s no guarantee on his status going forward.

Joe D’Alessandris deserves credit since taking over as the offensive line coach last season but injuries can only take this group so far. Hronnis Grassu and Jermaine Eluemunor just aren’t viable starting options going forward. Offensive line has to be a focus in the 2019 NFL draft for this team. 

 

2. Alex Collins, Run Game Aren’t the Same

On that same note, the run game was non-existent yet again. Sure, the Ravens were forced to throw more as a product of being down for three quarters but Alex Collins doesn’t look like the same running back we saw break out last season.

Through eight weeks, Collins has totaled 355 rushing yards, five touchdowns along with three fumbles. The offensive line has done him no favors with a minimal push at the line of scrimmage but the ground game looks stale as a whole.

Buck Allen and Gus Edwards aren’t threats out of the backfield and the offense looks extremely one-dimensional to this point.

3. Middle of the Field is Still a Liability for this Defense

Cam Newton, Greg Olsen, D.J. Moore, and the entire Panthers’ offense had a field day across the middle of the field. Even with what seemed to be an improved defense under Wink Martindale, the same problems are still arising.

C.J. Mosley led the team with 11 sacks but looked lost in coverage at times. When the linebackers would bite at the routes underneath, the secondary suffered the same problem.

For a linebacker like Mosley who’s expecting a major payday this offseason, those struggles certainly doing help his cause. The inability to cover tight ends is a problem. 

 

4. Jimmy Smith’s Time is Coming to an End

Coming off a torn Achilles and multiple suspensions, a 30-year-old Jimmy Smith isn’t the cornerback he once was. From playing at an All-Pro level up until his injury last season, he’s been more of a liability this year.

Smith is owed $15.8 million next season and there’s not a likely scenario where the Ravens pay him that amount. To Smith’s defense, he can’t be faulted for his contract situation. The Ravens restructured his contract in 2016 and 2017 and put this potential cap casualty on their own shoulders.

Per Spotrac.com, Smith can be released this offseason with a $6.3 million dead cap hit.

 

5. The Margin For Error is Extremely Thin Going Forward

Following back-to-back losses, the Ravens sit at 4-4 and third place in the AFC North behind the Bengals and Steelers.

The following eight games feature matchups against the two teams mentioned above, Falcons, Chiefs, and Chargers. That’s a brutal stretch for the second half of the season with little-to-no room for error.