A few weeks ago, the Ravens’ season was on the brink of collapse, but they have strung together three straight victories to climb back into the playoff picture.
But before the Ravens step on the field at Arrowhead Stadium, The Sun has to hand out the third-quarter report cards:
Quarterbacks: Joe Flacco has missed the last three games because of a hip injury, and his replacement, rookie Lamar Jackson, has played well. Jackson has played within his abilities — as a runner or a passer outside the pocket. His speed opens up a lot inside, for the running game, because there is so much fear of him getting outside on runs and turning the corner for big plays. He is inaccurate as a passer and has a lot of technical problems in his throwing motion, but the Ravens have won three straight with him as their starter. Grade: C+
Running backs: Rookie Gus Edwards has rushed for more than 100 yards in two of the last three games the Ravens have won. He is a big, one-cut, downhill type of runner but does have that burst to get to the outside. In the last two years, the Ravens have found a surprise at this position. Edwards replaced Alex Collins, whose poor attitude earned him a spot in head coach John Harbaugh’s doghouse. The Ravens are hoping Kenneth Dixon can become Edwards’ backup in the remaining four games. Buck Allen doesn’t have the explosion to be the top backup, and Ty Montgomery isn’t a downhill runner like Edwards. Grade: B
Receivers: Because of the recently developed running game, the receivers have played less of a role. There have been times when the frustration has boiled over on the sidelines, especially in Michael Crabtree. But overall, the Ravens are winning and that’s the most important thing. Before this season is over, Crabtree and fellow wide out John Brown have to play prominent roles. Even more importantly, though, is the role tight ends Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst have to play. They will be keys to the passing game. Grade: C
Offensive line: There are some who believe that Jackson has given this group an emotional lift, or that the line has improved dramatically. The attitude has changed because linemen love to run block more than pass block. Also, the downhill running game is better for this group because they aren’t physical and they don’t need to hold blocks long in this running game. Tackles Orlando Brown Jr. and Ronnie Stanley have played well, and right guard Marshal Yanda has regained his Pro Bowl form. Grade: B