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Giants-Ravens: 5 good questions with Baltimore Beatdown

Let’s try to learn some things about the Baltimore Ravens

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With the New York Giants facing the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday, we turn to SB Nation’s Baltimore Beatdown for our ‘5 questions.’ Kyle Barber was kind enough to drop some knowledge on us this week.

Let’s get to it!

Ed: Wink Martindale will be on the Giants’ sideline trying to come up with ways to defend Lamar Jackson. How weird is that? How worrisome? Do Ravens’ fans think Baltimore did the right thing moving on from Martindale?

Kyle: It’s definitely a bit peculiar. Ravens fans really liked Wink, both as a play-caller and personality. He was well-respected for his mentality and I believe he was an excellent play-caller and strategist.

I think the change made sense to some degree, but the injuries, as we can tell, were the greater problem. When the Ravens’ secondary is healthy like they’ve been the past couple weeks, they’ve been shutdown on quarterbacks Josh Allen and Joe Burrow. When Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters are on and off the field, they give up significantly more yardage, and that’s what Wink was dealing with.

Ravens fans are skeptical with new Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald. They want to see a body of work to ultimately decide on the decision.

I think Wink will generate something to throw Jackson off his game, but blitzing won’t be as effective like in years past. Against the blitz, Jackson has the most touchdown passes (7) and highest passer rating (124.0) among quarterbacks.

Ed: The Ravens are last in the league in pass defense. I’m shocked by that. What is going on there?

Kyle: Kind of. Their performance last week significantly improved their pass defense (DVOA) from No. 32 to No. 14. But, the reason is due to the thrashing they received at the hands of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

But, the matter at hand is they’re not a top-tier team after spending mega-millions signing and re-signing players defensive players.

Some of it is due to injury luck. They lost defensive tackle Michael Pierce, cornerback Kyle Fuller and outside linebacker Steven Means to season-ending injuries already. Cornerback Marcus Peters wasn’t 100-percent until the past two weeks. They lost outside linebacker Justin Houston the past couple weeks and then played free agent signing Jason Pierre-Paul after four practices to 55 snaps.

So, it’s mostly due to injury, but also the young secondary depth behind the stars isn’t holding their own when called upon at times.

Ed: Given everything he has gone through, it is amazing to me that Jason Pierre-Paul is still a productive NFL player. Why did Baltimore pick him up, and what is he adding to the Ravens’ defense thus far?

Kyle: Pierre-Paul shared after signing with the Ravens that last season his productivity dropped due to playing with one working shoulder. He shared how much that hindered his ability and after getting surgery in the offseason, he feels healthy and ready to contribute as a pass rush specialist, something the Ravens desperately need.

He’s shown that in the past two weeks, getting a sack, tackle for loss a few tackles and back-to-back pass swats at the line. He looks solid out there and the Ravens needed that immediate juice in the pass rush.

Ed: If you could take one player off the Giants’ roster NOT NAMED Saquon Barkley (because that’s too easy) who would it be? Why?

Kyle: Kyle First off, just because you said I can’t take Barkley doesn’t mean I won’t mention it nonetheless. Of course you take Barkley if you’re the Ravens. Pairing him with Jackson and tight end Mark Andrews makes this offense a nightmare to deal with. The combination of Barkley and Jackson’s skillsets in a single backfield? What a dream.

Now, to answer the question with your stipulations, I’d go with defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. Honestly, it’s hard to not take him over Barkley.

Looking over PFF scores, he’s the No. 6 defensive lineman with an 89.6 overall score and the No. 5 defensive lineman in terms of pass rush. That would be an incredible get for the Ravens, as they’re hurting up front after the loss of Pierce.

Ed: The Ravens are 5.5-point favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook. Despite victories over both No. 1 seeds in last year’s playoffs and a 4-1 record, Las Vegas is obviously not buying the Giants just yet, and that is understandable. Do you see the Giants as a legitimate threat, and would you be shocked if the Ravens lost this game?

Kyle: Legitimate threat? Not necessarily, but I’m certainly not sleeping on them. You don’t stumble into 4-1 in this league; the competition is too fierce and Ravens fans know better than anybody this season how fast things can change.

If the Ravens lost to the Giants I wouldn’t be so much shocked as disappointed. This is a team they’re equipped to beat and after taking care of the Bengals, a loss here would hurt.