The Seahawks have a big matchup with the Ravens on Sunday so to get a scouting report on the enemy, I talked to Nathan Beaucage, editor over at Baltimore Beatdown (@BMoreBeatdown). My questions in bold italics, his responses follow.
1. The Ravens have obviously had crap luck with injuries this year. Who have been the major losses and which players have replaced them?
Major losses: Too many to name. Really. When losing the starting quarterback, running back, and wide receiver aren't even that big of a deal in perspective, you know it's been bad. As far as stepping up, I would nominate rookie running back Buck Allen for embodying what it means to be the 'next man up'. He's filled in for Justin Forsett like a seasoned veteran, and has almost singlehandedly kept the offense kind of competent. For a rookie, he has great moves, discipline, and has a knack for making plays in the passing game. He's looking like the future of the Ravens' backfield for sure.
2. What are the Ravens biggest strengths and weaknesses on offense?
I just touched on it, but we lost the 'trifecta' for the year. Flacco, Forsett, Smith, Sr., all gone. There went our strengths. Depsite those injuries, a healthy Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele keep our offensive line solid, and Kamar Aiken and other receivers has stepped up in that facet of the game. The ugly eyesore on the offense will continue to be quarterback, regardless of who is under center this Sunday.
3. What are the Ravens' biggest strengths and weaknesses on defense?
Our defensive line is pretty stacked. Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan are two young guys who Ravens' fans think can become forces in this league. Both are having pretty good season, and Williams in particular has been on a tear of late. Linebackers like C.J. Mosley and Daryl Smith only boost the stout front line's ability to get to the quarterback. The weakness would certainly be the secondary. Our top cornerback is a guy we picked up midseason who was released from the 49ers. It's that bad. Quarterbacks have been exposing this secondary all year, and I expect the red-hot Russell Wilson to continue doing just that.
4. Are there any under-the-radar players that will factor in this week against the Seahawks?
Like I said earlier, watch out for Buck Allen. He's shifty, speedy, and just looks like a natural runner. I know this Seattle defense has been shutdown against the run, but the Ravens are going to have to lean on their run game no matter what. Sheer volume may just reign king over the tough Seahawks' defense.
5. How has the Ravens' rookie class fared this season?
I feel just okay about the draft class. It's hard to grade the class with the first round pick not even seeing a snap, but I feel as if this group is not one of Ozzie's greatest hits. Of the class, Buck Allen and Nick Boyle have surprisingly been the most impactful rookies. Despite being drafted at positions that weren't exactly a dire need, the two have managed to make an impact among the injuries. Boyle has actually looked better than Maxx Williams, selected in the second round. And of course, I've already said enough about Buck Allen. Defensive prospects Carl Davis and Za'Darius Smith haven't seen the field much, but there's still lots of hope for them. But at the end of the day, it really comes down to how Breshad Perriman performs, as he was the team's highest-drafted receiver since Torrey Smith in 2011.
Big thanks to Nathan for the scouting report, and make sure you head over to Baltimore Beatdown for a whole lot more on the Ravens.