Femi Ayanbadejo: Limiting Turnovers, Penalties Key First Step For Ravens

The Ravens were down by three points at halftime against the Indianapolis Colts Nov. 8, but the offense picked up the tempo in the second half and the Colts could not seem to slow down Lamar Jackson and the offense, leading to a 24-10 Ravens win. What does this mean moving forward in the second half of this unprecedented season?

Ravens radio analyst and Super Bowl XXXV champion fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo said limiting penalties and turnovers is going to be vital as the team looks for the chance to compete for a Super Bowl title.

“There’s a lot of ways to win a Super Bowl, and you’ve got to be hot and play good football and you’ve got to be disciplined. Turnovers and penalties are going to be key for me going forward,” Ayanbadejo said on Glenn Clark Radio Nov. 11. “In the second half of that game against [Indianapolis], I don’t believe there were any penalties, which made me really happy. Some of the penalties man, that annoys me and makes me more angry than some of the bonehead plays.”

A loss to the Colts could have been easily explained away due to the losses of cornerback Marlon Humphrey (COVID-19), left tackle Ronnie Stanley (season-ending ankle injury) and defensive tackle Calais Campbell, who suffered a calf injury early in the game and didn’t return. The team managed to come back and score 17 unanswered points in the second half.

“It absolutely can click. We’ve seen them shoot themselves in the foot with turnovers in the red zone, poor play calling at certain times,” said Ayanbadejo, who played for Baltimore from 1999-2001. “I think, obviously, [Marshal] Yanda is missed — probably a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I think Hayden Hurst is missed. He’s a big body that can run and stretch the field. I think he’s missed, too. And guess what? Defenses have adapted.”

“This team is still in the top 10 in scoring,” Ayanbadejo added. “Just under 30 points a game. So that’s more than enough offense to win a Super Bowl.”

Jackson contributed greatly to the Ravens’ turnaround against the Colts, completing 19 of 23 passes for 170 yards and rushing 13 times for 58 yards and a touchdown. In eight games this season, he has thrown for 1,513 yards and 12 touchdowns.

“On the road in the second half, Lamar was very crisp about his decision making. He took what the defense gave him. He threw the ball with authority down the middle of the field, he found his receivers. I think he was 10-for-10 in the second half,” Ayanbadejo said. “That’s the kind of football he’s going to have to play if the Ravens want to get where they want to get, which is a Super Bowl championship.”

Although the Ravens are second in the AFC North with a 6-2 record, they have struggled to stay consistent on offense this season. This could be partly due to the youth of their offensive lineup, which includes Jackson (23 years old), J.K. Dobbins (21), Marquise Brown (23) and Mark Andrews (24), among others.

With Mark Ingram out the past two weeks, Dobbins took on a bigger role against Pittsburgh (15 carries, 113 yards) and Indianapolis (12, 30).

“I would say that I don’t necessarily know that J.K. is ready from a pass protection, mesh-point [perspective] — all the little intricacies that make the Ravens’ offense what it is. I just don’t know if J.K. is ready to absorb the full role yet. I think he’s definitely the future.” Ayanbadejo said. “I think Lamar is the engine, and everyone else is … highly valuable chess pieces. Mark Andrews, highly valuable chess piece. Hollywood Brown, highly valuable chess piece. J.K. Dobbins, all the skill guys have something they bring to the table. But Lamar is the key.”

The Ravens will take on the Patriots Nov. 15, with Humphrey expected to be available after coming off the reserve/COVID-19 list. The Patriots are 3-5 after beating the New York Jets Nov. 9.

“One of the key components to success is unpredictability, and going up-tempo, kind of spreading things out a little bit, [Indianapolis] wasn’t ready for that,” Ayanbadejo said. “… I think they’re going to come out against New England and they’re going to be able to just pound New England, in my opinion. Maybe start out with what you normally do, but then evolve the offense throughout the game.”

For more from Ayanbadejo, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox