Sports columnist Mike Preston gives his position grades for the Ravens fourth game of the season against the Oakland Raiders. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
This week, the Ravens should be looking at ways to improve their secondary. There have been questions surrounding this group since the season started, and more doubts surfaced in Sunday's 28-27 loss to the Oakland Raiders.
The Ravens have improved on the back end since the season started, and communication has certainly seemed better because the Ravens are at least in the vicinity of receivers.
But now, it just appears to be coming down to physical talent and the Ravens might not have enough -- or they might need to try other players against the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
Jimmy Smith is the Ravens' best cornerback but we're past the days of thinking he is a "shutdown" cornerback. He is average on most days, good on others, but the best this team has to offer. Opposing teams have picked on cornerback Shareece Wright and it might be time for the Ravens to give rookie Tavon Young or veteran Will Davis some playing time.
The Ravens are obligated to Wright because of the contract they gave him in the off season, but it had to be disappointing to watch the Raiders go 66 yards in six plays for the game-winning drive Sunday. Elapsed time: 1 minute, 24 seconds.
I'll take it one more step. If Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio wasn't so conservative and had opened up the passing game, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr might have lit the Ravens up for more than 300 yards passing instead of 199.
Regardless of how well the front seven is playing you just don't have confidence in the secondary, including safety Lardarius Webb. The Ravens are limited as far as bringing in a prominent free agent at this time of year, but they might have the answers to some of their own problems right on the roster.