On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns’ take on the Baltimore Ravens. To help preview a few topics from the Patriots’ perspective, we reached out to Kyle Barber from Baltimore Beatdown and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: “Marlon Humphrey being out seems to be a huge blow to the Ravens’ secondary and defense. What is the trickle down effect and situation at cornerback now?”
Kyle: “After all the injuries the Ravens have suffered this season, this feels a little bit like the bottom falling out. While I’m not in the camp of, “Ravens should just tank,” it’s hard to see how competitive this team can be down the stretch when they’re missing, truly, so many players. Humphrey was one of the few cornerstone’s left on the roster. As for the impact this delivers to the roster, this makes cornerback Anthony Averett the new No. 1. Averett’s had a roller-coaster season with struggles and success. Fortunately, Tavon Young has returned from illness (non-COVID) and his ability in the slot, and some outside cornerback, will be helpful. Jimmy Smith, a notable veteran, may be playing, but he was currently one of two players missing from Friday’s practice. As stated, this is a big loss and passing teams will have more success with Humphrey’s absence.”
Chris: “I know the Ravens were just the top seed in the AFC prior to last week’s loss, but what are fans’ thoughts on Lamar Jackson’s performance this season?”
Kyle: “There is both fair and unfair criticism in Jackson’s play this season. I’ll start with the reasonable.
Jackson’s play in November has been pitiful. He’s thrown egregious interceptions, held the ball far too long in hopes of making a play from thin air, and not delivering good passes when needed. He doesn’t appear to have that kind of burst we remember him to utilize so frequently a season or two ago. His timing looks completely off. He’s holding onto the ball so painstakingly long in some instances.
The criticism doesn’t just fall to Jackson, though. Every single fan for some reason wants Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman’s head. In some cases, there is fair criticism. The Ravens have yet to prove they can beat a blitz. They have been utterly bullied on offense because Jackson and Roman have yet to make defenses pay for sending the house. But, it’s not on Jackson or Roman alone. It’s a combination of both, mixed in with, you guessed it, overwhelming amounts of injury. It’s not a black and white situation and that’s what people are most frustrated about.”
Chris: “The Browns are the only AFC North team not to beat the Ravens this season. What were the main reasons why Baltimore fell victim to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh?”
Kyle: “The Bengals were a case of getting Ja’Marr Chase’d. The Ravens defense struggled with miscommunication and poor tackling against the Bengals. Against the Steelers, it felt like a fourth quarter of just getting blitzed and the Ravens stumbling upon themselves and the injuries sustained in said game (Marlon Humphrey, RT Patrick Mekari). Looking at the Steelers and Browns games, they are the two games you can see this Ravens team as. They bullied and stuffed the run without Calais Campbell against the Browns. They played solid and delivered a win. The Steelers game was a first half of dominance followed up by the offense sputtering and the Ravens defense succumbing to the pressure and allowing 17 points in the fourth quarter.”
Chris: “Besides Humphrey being out, is there anything else that has changed with Baltimore since these teams met two weeks ago?”
Kyle: “Patrick Mekari, the Ravens right tackle, is likely to be out this week. That’s a big blow. Otherwise, that’s the biggest change.”
Chris: “I know these two teams just played each other, but still, tell us about one player who Browns fans may not have heard of, but who could have an impact on this Sunday’s game.”
Kyle: “Devin Duvernay could be a threat against the Browns. He’s become more used as an offensive weapon, rather than just a wide receiver. He’s getting handoffs and being utilized out of the backfield more frequently. He has great speed and agility, which is also why he’s among the best punt returners this season. He could make a big impact in a number of ways on Sunday.”
Thanks again to Kyle taking the time to answer my questions.