With the Ravens season a little more than halfway done and being on a bye week, myself and fellow Ravens writer, Jesse Balasus, are going to take a look at how the Ravens’ off-season free agent acquisitions have fared so far this year.
Isaiah- So far this year, Jefferson has been a disappointment in my eyes. Tony has not lived up to the hype that surrounded him when the Ravens first announced the signing. Jefferson has been beaten consistently by tight ends over the top. It seems that Jefferson bites on the play action game way to often. Jefferson has yet to record an interception, but he has been solid against the run game with 28 tackles to go along with 2 sacks. However, I do think Jefferson is going to live up to the expectations that were presented before him in the second half.
Jesse- Jefferson was the Ravens’ blockbuster signing when free agency started and has yet to play up to that contract so far. Even though he’s matched his career high in sacks so far this season, he seems to consistently let tight ends get behind and beat him. Some are curious if Jefferson was just a product of the system in Arizona, since his replacement, Tyvon Branch is having a dominant year. I’m confident he finishes the year strong, but Jefferson has not lived up to the high expectations.
Isaiah- Cornerback Brandon Carr has possibly been the most underrated signing of the off season. Brought in because of his durability, Carr has created a solid one, two punch with Jimmy Smith on the corners. Carr has three interceptions to go along with seven pass defenses. Carr’s one weakness is his ability or lack there of losing receivers once a play breaks. Other than that Carr has been one of the most solid additions to this years squad.
Jesse- Easily one of the most underrated signings in all of football this offseason, Carr went from an average cornerback in Dallas’ zone scheme to a pro bowl caliber player in Baltimore’s man to man. Carr has three interceptions this year, which is his most since 2013 where he also tallied three. Carr is in the midst of arguably his greatest season as a pro.
Isaiah- Jeremy Maclin was cut in early June by the Kansas City Chiefs as a cap casualty. The Ravens immediately scooped him up just a few days later, signing him to a two year deal. So far this year Maclin has suffered from a terrible offensive unit. Jeremy only has twenty-seven receptions, for 310 yards, and three touchdowns. Maclin did miss two games this season due to a shoulder injury, but nonetheless he is used to a larger workload than what he has recieved this season. Hopefully, the offense can find some type of identity and as a result Maclin begins to have a larger role.
Jesse- If it weren’t for the injury issues, I would have given Maclin an A. Maclin has easily been the most reliable receiver on the team this season, which is sad considering he only has twenty-seven catches for 310 yards and three touchdowns. He’s a big factor for this lackluster offense, but he needs to try to stay healthy.
Isaiah- Danny Woodhead was also a very under the radar signing by the Ravens. Woodhead, throughout his career has been a very disturbing player to opposing defenses. He creates a tough matchup against linebackers and is a great receiver out of the backfield. Unfortunately, Woodhead has missed the whole season, except for the first drive of the year against the Cincinnati Bengals. On that drive Woodhead caught three balls for thirty-three yards, but went down with a hamstring injury and has missed every game since. Due to this I am not going to give him a grade as I have nothing to go off of. Woodhead is expected to return next week against the Green Bay Packers.
Jesse- Although Woodhead was injured during the first drive of the season, that first drive was something special. He looked like that perfect piece in the offense that has not been filled since Ray Rice. Let’s be honest, everyone expected Woodhead to have some sort of injury this season, so although seeing him go down was depressing, it was nowhere near shocking. Woodhead’s practicing again and is eligible to come back after the game in Green Bay, so hopefully he can be a big piece alongside Alex Collins in making a late push for the playoffs.
Isaiah- Released by the Oakland Raiders in late July, Howard has become the Ravens’ starting right tackle and has played very well throughout the first half. Howard has been graded as one of the best run blocking tackles in the NFL and one of the best overall graded lineman on the Ravens. In a season where the Ravens have lost three starting offensive lineman, Howard has been a pleasant surprise.
Jesse- After being suddenly thrown out of Oakland, Howard became an instant starter for the Ravens. He has not been the best player on the line, but he also has not been the worst. It’s hard to properly grade Howard due to the injuries sustained on the offensive line corps, but he’s gotten the job done. Howard did prevent Khalil Mack from getting a QB pressure, which has never been done if I’m correct and that’s pretty amazing.
First Half MVP:
Isaiah- CJ Mosley
My first half MVP is a half man, half amazing. Linebacker CJ Mosley has been a rock in the middle of a solid Ravens defense. Mosley is second in the league in tackles with seventy-six, has two interceptions, one in which he returned for a touchdown, and a forced fumble that he recovered. Mosley has become one of the few leaders on this Ravens defensive unit and is well on his way to a third pro-bowl.
Jesse- Ryan Jensen
Jensen has gone from one of those players that made fans groan when he entered, to arguably the most beloved person in the organization. One of the biggest questions entering the season was who would be the center. Now everyone’s asking if Jensen can be a franchise center. Whether it’s going out and defending Flacco after Kiko Alonso’s nasty hit, or creating holes for the running backs, Jensen is easily the MVP so far this season.
First half disappointment-
Isaiah- Pass Rush
Coming out of the draft the Ravens walked away with both Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams. The two linebackers were brought in to help seasoned Veteran Terrell Suggs attack the quarterback. So far I have been disappointed in the lack of sacks this team has produced. Tim Williams is a pass rush specialist, but has been injured multiple weeks limiting his play time. Tyus Bowser has shown flashes of great play, but has also been inconsistent. Terrell Suggs is still getting the job done at age thirty-five and first year starter Matthew Judon has also been very inconsistent. Granted the defense is on the field an awful lot, with the depth the Ravens have at the pass rush position they should be able to force many more problems in a quarterbacks life. Hopefully they pick it up in the second half.
Jesse- Linebacking Core
I understand it’s hard to replace what Zachary Orr did last season, but this year’s linebacking core has been the biggest disappointment in my eyes. They seem to always be out of position, while letting receivers and tight ends catch passes across the middle. Aside from the game against Tennessee, the teams that have beaten us all used the same game plan; run it down the defense’s throat and throw it across the middle. Although CJ Mosley and Matt Judon have thoroughly impressed me, the rest have been very disappointing.