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5 Qs, 5 As with Baltimore Beatdown: Earl Thomas, Lamar Jackson, and draft fails

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks host the Baltimore Ravens and one of the players on that defense has a history here. That’s probably all you need to know!

But fine, we’ll get into it some more as the Seahawks wrap their AFC North schedule this Sunday against the Ravens. I sent 5 Qs to Kyle Barber of and in return he sent me five corresponding As. And a bonus.

Q: We want to know how Earl’s doing. How’s Earl doing?

A: Earl has been solid. Something we are mildly frustrated about, though, is the lack of Thomas playing his natural single-high position. The Ravens scheme asks for both safeties to patrol, rotate, blitz and cover in multiple zones. That isn’t what we all know Thomas for. Many, including myself, expected to see him used just how Seattle did, or how we reminisce Ed Reed. The true free safety position. I believe the two cornerback injuries before Week 2 is a proponent as to why they’re operating differently. Tavon Young suffered a season-ending neck injury back in August and Jimmy Smith suffered an MCL injury from a teammate colliding into his knee in Week 1.

Q: Lamar Jackson had a great time facing the Dolphins but his passer rating in the five games since sits at 82.2 with six touchdowns and five interceptions, 6.7 Y/A, and 15 sacks taken. The rushing is good, he’s been on a pace of nearly 1,500 yards (holy), but passing skeptics probably feel somewhat vindicated. Should they? How much has Lamar improved as a passer and do you think offensive coordinator Greg Roman is happy with the week-to-week, year-over-year progression?

A: I don’t believe it’s fair to completely disregard the game against the Dolphins for a narrative. Yes, they’re bewilderingly bad but he went 17/20 for 324 yards, including five touchdown passes. That’s not an accident.

That being said, his stats are a bit misleading. Two of his three interceptions last week came gift-wrapped from the referees’ discretion. The first was due to a defender wrapping up TE Mark Andrews before the ball was close, which allowed a second defender to catch the tipped ball. The judges opted out from throwing a flag. The second, as evidenced by CBS Sports’ Rules Analyst Gene Steretore’s Twitter, proving the intercepted ball was literally nose-down into the turf.

To answer the question, I don’t believe skeptics should feel vindicated. He’s thrown touchdowns and propels this offense not only by rushing but with his arm. He’s not Brees, Wilson or Rodgers, but he’s also not Tebow or Bortles. He’s a good quarterback with the capability of running the football. I believe Roman is happy with his progression from his rookie season in which he only saw seven regular-season starts. He’s a 22-year old sophomore quarterback who is developing.

Q: The team just traded for Marcus Peters, a player who the Seahawks really didn’t fear too much when facing off against the LA Rams. The Ravens have had a lot of injuries in the secondary and may rank as a bottom-10 unit against the pass overall. How much of that has to do with a lack of pass rush? Is the defensive line the real weakness? Because Seattle may be without Duane Brown and DJ Fluker on the offensive line again and Germain Ifedi/Justin Britt already might not be having great seasons.

A: The pass rush is in bad shape. None of the young pass rushers have stepped up. In fact, the Ravens cut 2017 third-round pick Tim Williams after their two-game losing streak. Only two linebackers seem to create any pressure, but both Matt Judon and Pernell McPhee are inconsistent and get worn down from playing the majority of snaps. Neither Tyus Bowser nor rookie Jaylon Ferguson are getting to the quarterback. None of the interior linemen are skilled in pass-rushing either. The Bengals O-line last week was missing multiple players and yet saw only two sacks all game, both in the fourth quarter and what felt like garbage time.

Q: What’s the expected status of Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and without him, how dire are things at receiver?

A: The most recent report for injury news on Thursday, October 17, has Hollywood still out with an ankle injury; I expect it to be a game-time decision. Honestly, this feels a bit like the ‘Ewing Theory.’ With Hollywood out, it forces Jackson to go through his progressions. He really likes targeting Hollywood and Andrews but both are banged up and he needs to spread the wealth. We’ve seen Jackson not throw to an open receiver elsewhere for some unexplained reason when Hollywood isn’t the first read. I wouldn’t say things are dire with Hollywood out but they’re certainly far from ideal. If we’re strictly talking wide receiver, it’s a bit rough. But Baltimore has three starting-caliber tight ends which they intentionally sought after through their drafts and it wouldn’t be right to exclude them.

Q: Finish these statements: The biggest disappointment in the last 3 drafts has been ____. And the biggest, most pleasant surprise in the last 3 drafts has been ____.

A: The biggest disappointment in the last three drafts has been Tyus Bowser & Tim Williams. Baltimore desperately needed young pass rushers to carry the mantle after Terrell Suggs left. Now, Williams has been cut and Bowser has yet to make his mark. Both defensive line coach Joe Cullen and head coach John Harbaugh have been vocal about their lack of production, which isn’t common for this franchise.

The biggest, most pleasant surprise in the last three drafts has been Marlon Humphrey.

When the Ravens drafted him in 2017, fans weren’t thrilled. Most chalked it up to being a classic Ozzie Newsome-Alabama selection. Since then, those fans ate their words. Humphrey has arguably turned into the best cornerback in the NFL. Last year, the Baltimore media voted Humphrey the Ravens’ 2018 MVP award. Humphrey declined the award though because he wasn’t comfortable singling himself out. And now, in 2019, he’s once again their MVP. He’s dominating opposing receivers and producing takeaways in the form of interceptions and forced fumbles. He just may be the first one to intercept Wilson. That is if ETIII doesn’t find one first.

Bonus: have you heard of Michael Dickson?

bonus: Oh, Kenneth, you don’t know who I am, haha. My passion is for special teams. While I specifically care about kicking, I still love all things special teams, including punting. Dickson’s been putting on a clinic in Seattle. My question is, have you heard of Sam Koch?

Also, I hope each Seattle drive ends with Dickson punting.