LANDOVER, Md. — The Washington Football Team host their intrastate rivals, the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday at FedEx Field looking to bounce back from consecutive losses and regain their winning ways from Week 1. Washington comes home from a two game road trip to Arizona and Cleveland totaling 4,780 miles to host the team from just 33 miles up I-95. The Ravens “road trip” is part of a schedule where Baltimore only travels 6,310 total miles and have already played their farthest away road game, Week 2 in Houston. The silver lining so far this season for Washington is how the team has managed to hold onto first place in the NFC East despite their early struggles. The tough task of stopping last year’s NFL MVP Lamar Jackson is made infinitely harder with the loss of DE Chase Young. The rookie phenom left Week 3’s game against Cleveland with a groin injury.
Despite the defense having racked up 13 sacks in the first three weeks, only 5 of them have come since Week 1 against Philadelphia. Professional rag doll QB Carson Wentz was taken down 8 times in Washington’s line victory but since then their sack production has subsequently decreased. Over the past two games Washington has faced mobile quarterbacks, i.e. Kyler Murray & Baker Mayfield, collecting only 3 and 2 sacks, respectively. Chase Young’s groin strain has him trending towards missing Sunday’s game, luckily his back up is Pro Bowler Ryan Kerrigan. Washington could do a lot worse but Chase Young’s disruptive presence would be irreplaceable if he is forced to miss extended time.
As for the defense, one can argue the timing of this matchup. Is it better or worse to catch Lamar Jackson coming off a performance including career low 3.5 yards per pass attempt after accumulating only 97 yards on 28 attempts against the Chiefs on Monday night? If there is a key to slowing down the MVP QB, it is in sending a lot of pressure his way. Jackson, who completes passes at a 64.4% clip in his career, sees his percentage drop to 55.1 when he faces pressure from 6+ pass rushers. Seems simple enough, right? The danger lies in the fact that Lamar Jackson is arguably the most elusive and fastest quarterback in league history. If he Houdinis himself out of the pressure, he has made defenses pay for their aggressiveness to the tune of 2.083 career rushing yards since he came into the league in 2018, including a single season record 1,206 last season.
The running game for Baltimore outside of Jackson doesn’t get any easier to defend. Former Heisman winner Mark Ingram, the ” man” at 30-years old, leads an otherwise young backfield of rookie JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards, who are averaging 7.6 and 7.2 yards per carry, respectively, this season. Ingram has the lowest per carry average on the team and still averages 4.4 yards per tote. If Washington can’t keep this one close, the Ravens run game will grind them down and speed the clock up making any comeback nearly impossible.
Dwayne Haskins is coming off a 3-interception performance against the Browns and it won’t get easier going against a Baltimore. The Ravens defense is angry after allowing 6 TDs (5 pass, 1 rush) to Pat Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football. Haskins to McLaurin is Washington’s best bet with a double move that might catch an over aggressive Marcus Peters in no man’s land with a double move. McLaurin has been a lone bright spot of the Washington offense this season having already hauled in 16 of 25 targets for 269 yards and a touchdown. If Washington wants to have any chance against Baltimore then Haskins will need to find McLaurin early and often on Sunday afternoon and hook up for at least two scores.
McLaurin (thigh) did not practice Fridaywhixg is usually not a good sign for Sunday availability.However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted out right at midnight Saturday night that McLaurin is expected to play against Baltimore.
Washington Football Team WR Terry McLaurin, listed as questionable for Sunday due to thigh injury, is expected to play against the Ravens, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 4, 2020
Baltimore’s defensive line will be harassing Haskins all afternoon, especially Baltimore DE Calais Campbell who always has his hands up and at 6’8″, 300 lbs, he makes a huge wall for quarterbacks to throw around. Campbell got a hand on 3 passes in Week 1. It comes down to McLaurin and company in the receiving corps to make plays against the Baltimore secondary, anchored by All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey who just inked a 5-year extension worth $98.75 million and 2-time All-Pro Marcus Peters, as well as longtime corner turned safety, Jimmy Smith. Another 3 interception performance by Haskins, while in the cards against the vaunted Baltimore defense, is not going to bode well for Washington or Haskins’ development.
Despite the loss to Kansas City, Baltimore is still a bunch of world beaters and Washington needs to get the offense in gear to stay in this one because, to paraphrase the old Jethro Tull Classic “The Ravens don’t stop coming, no they just slow down.”