Monday evening’s tilt guessween the Ravens and Raiders caused certainly one of the wackiest endings to a recreation we’ve ever witnessed. There have been last-minute discipline objectives to ship the recreation into additional time, some late-game heroics from receiver Bryan Edwards, a landing referred to as again and positioned at the 1-yard line, an finish zone interception to maintain the recreation going, a fumble by the crew that made the interception to virtually reward their opponents the win, and a walk-in, walk-off landing. I can solely start to think about the rollercoaster of feelings that a number of Ravens and Raiders followers went via in the ultimate minutes of that recreation. The most stunning factor to come back out of that recreation although was a Raiders win.
Not solely did the Raiders pull out the victory, however they made Lamar Jackson seem like simply a median NFL quarterback. The Raiders’ stress compelled a number of missed throws from the former MVP and restricted Jackson to only one passing landing, all whereas recording three sacks and 6 quarterback hits. Yeah, that’s a stable quantity of stress the Raiders have been placing on Jackson. It’s sort of ironic. During the broadcast, the announcers poked a little enjoyable at the Raiders’ defensive woes in the Gruden period. They even had an animated graphic able to let everybody know simply how dangerous the Raiders have been on protection.
Funny sufficient, the Raiders compelled a number of turnovers after that graphic aired. Talk about an announcer jinx. Those turnovers have been a large purpose the Ravens got here out of Vegas holding the ‘L’.
However, the efficiency of 1 Maxx Crosby, or ought to I say, the poor efficiency of 1 Alejandro Villanueva could be much more accountable.
Raiders edge rusher Maxx Crosby was fairly rattling stable on Monday. He recorded two tackles for loss to go together with two sacks. He was a common in the Ravens’ backfield and an absolute menace on the proper facet of the Ravens’ line. It earned him an AFC Defensive Player of the Week award.
That proper facet of the line is the place the newly acquired Alejandro Villanueva performs. Villanueva was introduced on by the Ravens after buying and selling away their two-time Pro Bowler deal with, Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs. Villanueva had a productive 2020, however struggled in the run blocking division, and his age has clearly slowed him down a step from the place he was a number of years in the past. Crosby is a good pass-rusher, however he’s not precisely the quickest or strongest man on the market. He performs with a lot of coronary heart and seemingly by no means provides up on any given play, which is clearly a nice persona trait to have, however he’s not the most gifted edge rusher in the AFC. That distinction belongs to both TJ Watt or Myles Garrett, and wouldn’t you realize it… each of these guys play for groups in the Ravens’ division.
I don’t need to overreact to what we noticed on Monday. It was Villanueva’s first recreation in a new system and at a new place from what he’d performed his complete profession. Hopefully, he can be taught the place higher earlier than he has to go up in opposition to any of the recreation’s elite pass-rushers. However, if we’ve realized something this offseason concerning offensive line play, it’s that swapping from one facet of the line to the different is far more tough than it appears.
Take Penei Sewell for instance. Sewell was certainly one of, if not the most, highly-touted O-linemen in the most up-to-date NFL draft. He was chosen seventh general by the Detroit Lions and was requested by his new crew to swap from left deal with to proper. That ended up being a a lot larger drawback than initially anticipated. On the offensive line, while you’ve conditioned your self to step again along with your proper foot and get set from that place, you turn out to be snug utilizing that foot, and establishing in that method on each go safety snap. That’s a large purpose why Sewell continued to battle at the proper deal with place, however as quickly as he was swapped again to left deal with after Taylor Decker’s damage on Saturday, regardless of Sewell taking only a few snaps in coaching camp at the left deal with place, Sewell seemed how all of us anticipated him to. He was getting set rapidly and constantly beating robust edge-rushers like Dee Ford and Nick Bosa. Sewell didn’t win each snap, however held his personal, and that’s very promising.
The identical goes for Villanueva, and possibly to a fair bigger extent. Where Sewell is a rookie with plenty of time to develop, Villanueva has already gone via his growth course of. He’s been a left deal with since he joined the Steelers in 2015, and it might be too late for the Ravens to transition him to the reverse facet of the line. After six years in the NFL, he’s skilled himself to guard the quarterback’s blind facet. He’s turn out to be snug getting set on his left foot. Now, he’s being requested to throw all that out the window, and that would result in critical struggles in the Ravens’ passing recreation.
I nonetheless love the Ravens. I feel they’re tremendously gifted and have a nice alternative to win their division, but when Villanueva doesn’t determine his points at the proper deal with place, the AFC North will possible fall into the fingers of the Browns or Steelers.
#Note-Author Name – Jon Hoefling