The Ravens respect Andy Dalton more than Baker Mayfield
In case you were wondering if the lineup changes had to do with the fact that the Cleveland Browns frequently operate out of two and three tight end formations, the answer is no.
Rather, the Ravens brought in heavier run defenders to take away the middle of the field. They were much less concerned about pass defense overall than when they defended Andy Dalton and the Chicago Bears the previous week.
Regarding covering David Njoku, Austin Hooper and Harrison Bryant, defensive coordinator Wink Martindale and head coach John Harbaugh basically told their pass defenders that they were going to have to play more man-to-man, because they wanted to have an extra big man or two up front to stop Chubb and Hunt.
Sure enough, the Ravens used much less of players like weakside linebacker Kristian Welch, a nice player at 240-pounds. Instead, in came 336-pound Brandon Williams to occupy the nose tackle position, flanked by 304-pound Broderick Washington and 293-pound Justin Madabuike.
They were determined to plug up the middle of the field 92% of the time versus the Browns. Against the Bears, 47% of the time was good enough.
The Ravens weak pass defense was good enough to stop the Browns passing offense. The horrifying part of the story is that the Ravens are third worst in the NFL in pass defense with 8.0 yards per pass attempt.
Did that worry Baltimore? Apparently not. They took out pass defenders to stop the run.
What? Surely, they at least brought in extra strongside SAM linebackers to deal with the Browns tight end pass receiving threats? No.
Well, did they bring in extra pass rushers to force Baker Mayfield to make mistakes? No. They actually took away pass rushing linemen and linebackers.
They only added personnel who specialized in stopping the run. The guys with the big stomachs. Those dudes.
Baltimore attempted stunts like this before, because of their respect for Nick Chubb, and the result has been that Baker Mayfield and the receiving corps have been able to step up and deliver. He has had his share of monster games in which he passed for 342 yards, 376 yards, 342 yards (again) and 343 yards.
You may join Emily Mayfield and others in decrying the lack of effort among the Browns receivers and offensive line. But it’s not just your humble correspondent that believes Mayfield should be benched for his own good.
ESPN’s Mike Greenberg, who picked the Browns to go to the Super Bowl this season and thus can hardly be considered a Baker hater, has also gone on record as advocating that Baker has to shut it down because he is too injured to be effective.
It goes without saying that Kareem Hunt, Sr. raised some viable points, though the Dads and wives need to give a rest. They aren’t really helping. But no sir, this writer did not disagree with what you had to say.
What happened to the Browns is that a team thinned by injuries, and having one of the leakiest pass defenses in the NFL, stacked the box against the run all night long and it worked great against our Browns. Lamar Jackson tried to help out by contributing four interceptions — he too is not nearly 100%, but his future prognosis is not quite as grim as Mayfield’s.
Fans could argue that only one other team was used for comparison, the Chicago Bears. That’s true, but personnel changes due to injury from week to week, and so basically the available personnnel did not change much in just one week. In any case, it should be embarrassing that the passing game of the Bears commanded more respect than the Browns, judging from who received playing time.
Even worse, first-string quarterback Justin Fields went out early on, and the Bears were forced to play their nominal backup, Andy Dalton. No, there is no question that the Ravens respect Dalton more than Mayfield right now.
This dawg won’t hunt, folks. It’s tragic. It’s not fair to say there is a lack of ability or lack of effort or lack of will. There is, however, a lack of common sense. Mayfield is too injured to help the team right now.
Can he get better with an extra week’s rest? Well, he might regain some mobility, but he will not grow a new labrum in the left shoulder, and that shoulder brace is going to continue to cause him to throw erratically. There’s nothing good that’s coming from this process. We are just seeing a good man destroy his once-promising career.
Kevin Stefanski has to put his foot down and force common sense to apply. This is why they hired Case Keenum, and the season is going down the drain while he sits on the bench. It may even be too late now. 11-6 may not make the playoffs, and the Browns are so not going 11-6.
Look, your humble correspondent is just a fan, not an ex-player, not an ex-coach, not a doctor. I’m not claiming to know more than coach Stefanski or the team doctors. But now tell me why I’m wrong.