Before the Baltimore Ravens can fully turn the page of their epic Week 2 meltdown in which they let the Miami Dolphins score 28 points in the final 15 minutes of the game, they must first learn from their mistakes. Misunderstandings at secondary level led to a series of big games and in his press conference on Monday September 19, 2022, head coach John Harbaugh shed some light and broke down what went wrong on the two long touchdowns that made it to a One-score made the game and then equalized in less than five and a half minutes.
Both quick strike results went for 40 yards, came in third and long, and went up to a wide-open Tyreek Hill in what Harbaugh described as “fundamentally blown covers” where the cornerback thought they had safety assist on top.
The first was a 48-yarder that saw Hill get a step behind his former Kansas City Chiefs teammates and veteran cornerback Marcus Peters and rookie safety Kyle Hamilton came over too late to break up the underthrowd pass.
“We didn’t have anyone in the deep half,” Harbaugh said. “That was a misunderstanding if you want to call it that and the deep halfer didn’t know he was a deep halfer and he needs to go back there.
“If you’re a deep-half player, you need to know you’re a deep-half player and get back there. We cannot leave the deep half uncovered. So we show them a blitz and we execute it, someone has to be back there and that’s the responsibility of the person and the coach, all of us, to get that done.
He didn’t throw a player directly under the bus or blame coverage busts in any particular direction. While his comments made it clear that youth and inexperience played a major role in these critical mistakes, he said there’s a “good chance” they’ll have their perennial cornerback players extra healthy and available.
Earlier in the season, the 2021 first-round edge defender was discussed as a potential breakout candidate alongside previously sensational sophomore wideout Rashod Bateman. NBC Sports’ Peter King even went so far as to predict that he would be in contention for the Defensive Player of the Year award.
In the first two games, however, Oweh is yet to record his first sack of the season and has only two presses and two rushes, according to the Pro Football Reference, despite playing 81 percent of the team’s total defensive snaps in Week 1 and 82 percent in Week 1 has week 2. After a strong rookie campaign in which he had five sacks and 15 quarterback hits in 15 games, opposing teams devote more effort and blockers to slowing him down, avoiding sometimes running completely to his side , but the Ravens need more out of it regardless.
“He needs to play better, like all of us,” Harbaugh said. “We have to train better, play better and you have to make a name for yourself out there. You have to do it.”
While his pass rush production has been lackluster to date, that’s not the case for 12-year-old full-back Justin Houston. The four-time Pro Bowler has played less than 70 percent of the team’s total defensive snaps in his first two games, but had a sack in each and could have had a few more or just missed, and has also recorded three quarterback hits, eight pressings , a knockdown and five haste.
The Ravens’ running game, which switches the offensive side of the ball, was absent in the first two games of the season, save for some explosive key runs from quarterback Lamar Jackson. While much of the blame has been placed on the offensive line’s feet and running back depth map, both of whom are without their best player in left tackle Ronnie Stanley and running back JK Dobbins, they also lack the presence of another player that was on the run just as important to their meteoric success over the years, especially since Jackson became the full-time starter.
Boyle is one of the best blocking tight ends when he’s healthy, essentially serving as both an extra lineman at the end of the line and another full-back in the backfield. He is able to make lead, clearout and kick out blocks to put ball carriers in second and third tiers of defense. The eighth-year veteran has not been in full health since suffering a catastrophic knee injury in Week 10 of the 2020 season that limited him to just five games and 95 total offensive snaps in 2021.
After being inactive for the first two weeks of the season despite participating in practice before every game, Harbaugh said Boyle is “close to 100 percent” and the likelihood of him making his 2022 Week 3 debut against the New England Patriots will give. The team where he picked up his injury is high.
“There’s a good chance he’ll be out there this week,” Harbaugh said. “We just have to see. We have some guys who are doing well. Josh Oliver played damn well. It’s just a matter of finding the right formula. I think we’re blessed with some talent there, so you don’t have to push Nick [Boyle] back, necessarily, but I wouldn’t mind putting Nick out there in the first place now [with] how he practices. Well, we’ll see.”