clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Know Your Enemy: Baltimore Ravens

Turns out the Chargers aren't the only disappointment in the AFC. San Diego heads across the country to Baltimore to battle the 1-6 Ravens on Sunday. Here's what you need to know.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Since their last two games resulted in two of the more embarrassing losses in recent memory, maybe a road trip will do the Chargers some good. You'd assume (which has been extremely dangerous over the last month or so) that squaring off against the one-win Ravens certainly would. Here's what you need to know about the AFC's other huge disappointment:

Coaching Staff

Head Coach: John Harbaugh (73-43, 10-5 playoffs, 1 Super Bowl win)

Offensive Coordinator: Marc Trestman

Defensive Coordinator: Dean Pees

The older Harbaugh brother has done a standout job since taking over as the Ravens head coach prior to the 2008 season. Under his tenure the Ravens have had five 10-win seasons, reached the playoffs six times, and never had a losing season. That of course looks to change this year after the Ravens 1-6 start. Prior to taking over for Brian Billick in Baltimore, Harbaugh was the longtime special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, his only other NFL coaching experience, and coached in Philadelphia from 1998-2007.

Marc Trestman joined Harbaugh's staff this season, taking over for now Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak, after two disappointing seasons as the head coach of the Chicago Bears. Trestman has coached in the college football, NFL and CFL ranks, most notably heading the Montreal Alouettes from 2008-2012. Thus far, the Ravens ranked 15th in the NFL in total yards, 12th in passing yards and 18th in rushing yards under Trestman.

Dean Pees joined Harbaugh's staff in 2010 as the team's linebackers coach. He held the position for two seasons before ascending to defensive coordinator in 2012. Prior to his time in Baltimore, Pees coached in New England as the linebackers coach (2004-2005) and later defensive coordinator (2006-2009). He was also the head coach at Kent State from 1998-2003, meaning Pees got to watch Antonio Gates dominate on the basketball court and presumably hate his life. Under Pees this season, the Ravens defense is allowing 102.4 yards on the ground (10th), 283 yards through the air (28th) and 385.4 total yards per game (25th).

Last Week's Recap: Loss @ Arizona, 26-18

In what has to be an immensely troubling trend for Ravens fans, Baltimore's contest against Arizona, like their previous six games, was decided by a single score. And like their five previous losses, the Ravens again came up short.

In this instance, the Ravens fell behind 26-10 midway through the 4th quarter after heading to the half down 14-10. Cardinals' running back Chris Johnson continued his re-emergence with an 18 carry, 126 yards 1  touchdown performance as Arizona collectively averaged 5.4 yards per attempt and compiled 150 yards on the ground. In stark contrast to Johnson, Ravens running back Justin Forsett, who broke out last year with his first ever 1,000-yard season, totaled just 36 yards on 12 carries as the Baltimore ground attack stalled and mustered just 55 yards total.

Carson Palmer enjoyed a comfortable Monday night, going 20-29 for 275 yards and two scores and connected with seven different receivers. Palmer was sacked twice and hit just four times throughout the game. Meanwhile, Joe Flacco completed 26 of his 40 attempts and passed for 252 yards and a score. He also turned the ball over once, a game-ending interception in the end zone in the game's final minute as Baltimore was driving to tie the game and force overtime. This isn't the first time this has happened this season, as Flacco was picked off in the end zone in the final minute of Baltimore's game against Denver, which the Ravens lost 19-13.

Key Players: Offense

QB Joe Flacco, RB Justin Forsett, WR Steve Smith, G Marshal Yanda

It starts with Flacco who often oscillates between being a good to below average quarterback. Thus far the 8th year man out of Delaware has completed 62.7 percent of his passes and thrown for just under 2,000 yards through seven games. Flacco has a 9:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio and has thrown an interception of 2.8 percent of his passes.

Forsett has come back to earth after his breakout season a year ago, where he averaged 5.4 yards per carry. That number has fallen dramatically to a still respectable 4.3 yards per attempt. Forsett's numbers are bolstered by two strong performances against Pittsburgh and Cleveland respectively, as he has to top 68 yards in five of seven games and has reached the end zone just twice. Still, Forsett has proven to be a force when Baltimore makes a dedicated attempt to run the ball, which figures to be the case against the Chargers.

If the Ravens do have success running the ball it'll likely be because of Marshal Yanda, arguably the best guard in football. Yanda has reached the Pro Bowl each of the last four seasons and is among the highest paid at his position. Unsurprisingly, Yanda excels in both the pass and ground game and can dominate against inferior talent, which the Chargers have in spades along the defensive front.

I shouldn't need to tell you about Steve Smith. The feisty receiver is still going strong in his 15th and, according to him, final season. Part of the reason to doubt Smith's claim is that the former Utah Ute appears as dangerous as ever as he has hauled in a team-leading 41 receptions for 588 yards and 3 scores. After a decade and a half in the league, Smith is playing like a No. 1 receiver. The problem for Baltimore is that you typically don't want a 36-year old receiver as your top target, even one as dangerous as Smith. Forsett ranks second on the team in receptions with 26, while no other receiver has topped 20.

Key Players: Defense

LB Daryl Smith, LB C.J. Mosely, LB Elvis Dumervil, CB Jimmy Smith

Mosely and Smith patrol the middle of the Ravens defense, with the former being one of the Ravens' top playmakers while the latter leads the team in tackles with 62 total, or 23 more than Mosely, who ranks second. Meanwhile, Mosely is tied for the team lead in sacks with 3, and ranks second on the team in passes defended with 4.

With Terrell Suggs out for the year, Elvis Dumervil becomes the de facto pass rushing threat on the Ravens roster. Former second round pick Courtney Upshaw hasn't exactly filled that role as he has yet to record a sack on the year. Dumervil has just 2.5 sacks so far after recording 17 a season ago, but it'd be unwise to underestimate the 10th year man out of Louisville.

The Ravens pass defense has been uninspiring so far this year as they have been quite susceptible to the big play. Smith remains their most dangerous man in the secondary as he is responsible for two of the team's three interceptions this season.