Top takeaways from Ravens dominant win over Bengals: Dobbins and Duvernay
The Baltimore Ravens improved their record to 4-1 and won their second straight game since losing their first to the Kansas City Chiefs by using an explosive first quarter from their offense and a phenomenal performance by their defense to dominate the Cincinnati Bengals 27-3 in Week Five.
Here is one of the top takeaways that I observed from the Ravens second blowout over an AFC North opponent by more than 20 points:
Devin Duvernay and JK Dobbins need to get more touches
The Ravens are in the top 10 in scoring offense yet they aren’t quite clicking on all cylinders just yet and haven’t looked like the same offensive juggernaut that they were by the end of last season when they finished as the most potent unit in the league.
Some of their struggles offensively through the first five games of the season can be attributed to Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman either trying to hard to get all of the team’s weapons involved according to some pundits or that reigning league MVP is trying to funnel the passing game through wide receiver Marquise Hollywood Brown and tight end Mark Andrews too much.
However, one way they could open up and spread the wealth in the passing attack as well as run the ball more effectively and efficiently, both of which have been issues to start the year, could be getting the ball in the hands of their top two offensive rookies early and often in games.
The Ravens were fortunate enough and pounced on the opportunity to scoop up running back J.K. Dobbins out of Ohio State in the second round and were elated when they were able to select wide receiver Devin Duvernay out of Texas with the second of their four picks in the third round.
Even though they have received limited and sporadic snaps on offense to start the season, both rookie skill position players have made the most of their touches and looked dynamic and explosive in the process.
Against the Bengals, the Ravens’ two longest plays from scrimmage on offense came on rushes from Dobbins and Duvernay. Both players only got one carry in the game and they both picked over 30 yards on each.
On the Ravens’ second play from scrimmage on offense in the first quarter, Duvernay took a handoff on an end-around reverse up the left sideline for a 42 yard gain before being pushed out of bounds by Bengals safety Jesse Bates at the Cincinnati 31-yard line.
It was a brilliant play that was beautifully blocked, the rookie receiver showcased his tremendous speed and acceleration and two incomplete passes and a three-yard run later, the Ravens scored the first points of the game on a short Justin Tucker field goal.
Dobbins’ only carry of the game came Ravens’ seventh offensive drive of the game and third of the second quarter. Baltimore got the ball with two minutes until halftime and on the second play of the drive, after he picked up nine yards in his first touch of the game via a reception, he turned the corner up the left sideline and ripped off a 34-yard run where he broke a pair of tackles and rumbled out of bounds at the Cincinnati 27-yard line with two Bengals on his back.
His incredible efforts and explosive play were wasted after Jackson three the ball three straight times with the first two falling incomplete and third ended up right in between the numbers of Bengals rookie linebacker Logan Wilson for an interception, squandering the prime scoring opportunity in the process.
Both players were little more involved in the passing game with Dobbins catching all three of his targets for 21 yards and Duvernay hauled in both of the passes thrown his way for 17 yards. On the final box score, the Ravens ran the ball for 162 yards on 23 carries for more than seven yards per carry if you add the yard that was lost in the victory formation kneel down to end the game.
However, subtract the yardage gained by Dobbins and Duvernay on their two chunk plays and that net yardage and average yards per carry come down dramatically to 86 net yards for about 4.1 yards per carry.
While Duvernay’s offensive snap count has steadily increased each week and he played a new career-high 18 snaps on offense, up from 16 from the week before, Dobbins played a season-low 18 snaps on offense on Sunday despite looking like the most explosive back from rushing and pass-catching standpoint in limited opportunities.
On the season Dobbins now has two runs of 30 or more yards that account for 78 of his 126 rushing yards through five games and has caught all but one of his 10 targets for 73 yards receiving over that span bring his yards from scrimmage total to 199 on 25 combined touches for an average of eight yards and a pair of rushing scores.
As for Duvernay, he’s been even more explosive in his limited touches even though he doesn’t have as many yards from scrimmage. He’s caught seven of his nine targets for 59 yards and picked up 42 yards on his first career carry. He averages 12.6 yards per touch and has been dynamic just about every time he has touched the ball including on his 93-yard kick return touchdown for the first score of his career.
While the answer to solving all of the Ravens’ offensive woes and deficiencies isn’t as simple getting these two rookies more involved, featuring them more in the game plan each week, and getting them more touches will bring more explosiveness and quick-strike scoring ability to the offense.