After the Ravens lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers Dec. 2 with a large group of starters — including Lamar Jackson — on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the Ravens regained a sense of normalcy during their 34-17 win against the Dallas Cowboys Dec. 8.
Prior to the Cowboys game, former ESPN “NFL Live” host Trey Wingo said that the Ravens’ offense needed to become more consistent in the passing game if the team wanted to improve its running game for the final stretch the season and make a playoff push.
“If you take a realistic look at that offense, yes, last year was such an outlier, but at the end of the day, the way the game is played and the more importantly, the way the game is legislated and officiated, averaging 237 passing yards isn’t going to win you much,” Wingo said on Glenn Clark Radio Dec. 4. “And we can talk about [how] the running game hasn’t been the same, which means then you have more pressure on the passing game, which really wasn’t real great last year outside of the middle of the field and the tight ends. Hollywood Brown has not been the game-breaker they thought he would be, and Lamar has to get better at getting chunk plays down the field.”
“The offense needs to be a more consistent passing threat for that running game to ever come back to what it was a year ago,” he added.
The Ravens (7-5) posted 219 yards of total offense and two turnovers in 49 total plays against Pittsburgh Dec. 2. But Baltimore bounced back to record 401 yards of total offense against the Cowboys, including 294 yards on the ground, with Jackson back.
Baltimore is No. 23 in the league in total offense for the season (332.5 yards per game), No. 31 in passing (169.3) and No. 1 in rushing (169.0). Last year, the Ravens were No. 2 in total offense (407.6), No. 27 in passing (201.6) and No. 1 in rushing (206.0).
“The Ravens are the first team in NFL history to balance their offense with over 200 rushing yards per game and over 200 yards passing per game,” Wingo said. “And that’s cool, and it’s true, but that’s never going to happen again.”
Baltimore recently had to place 23 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list as part of its COVID-19 outbreak. The team had a 10-day period during which at least one player tested positive each day. The outbreak forced the Ravens-Steelers matchup to be postponed three times, but ultimately the game was played.
Wingo wasn’t surprised the NFL pushed to have the game played in Week 12.
“First of all, this is absolutely what the NFL has done forever,” Wingo said. “There was a game in the late 90s or early 2000s where the Broncos were supposed to go to Buffalo to play and a massive snowstorm came in and they couldn’t get out of Denver. They said, ‘Hey, we’d like to postpone the game’ and they said, ‘No, find a way to get there.’
“So the Broncos flew the morning of the game up to Buffalo and played that game that afternoon. I guess my first thing would be, this is what the NFL does. They push the product out there on schedule, on time if it’s safe.”
The Ravens’ outbreak wasn’t the only game affected by COVID-19 in Week 12. The Broncos placed four quarterbacks on the reserve/COVID-19 list ahead of their game against the New Orleans Saints, meaning practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton played quarterback.
The NFL required the Broncos to stay on schedule, whereas the Ravens game was postponed three different times. Wingo explained the difference between the situations faced by the Broncos and Ravens.
“The obvious difference is there was an active continuing outbreak with the Ravens,” Wingo said. “Like, there were 10 straight days of positive tests. So, in essence, you could make the argument — and I think fairly convincingly — [that] they gave the Ravens the biggest ramp and runway they could possibly have given them, and again, the difference is, the Denver game, there was no other positive tests [aside from Jeff Driskel]. They just took those guys out because of safety precautions.”
Wingo also emphasized the fact that the 17-week schedule for the unprecedented 2020 season has held up without any cancellations thus far.
“We’ve managed to get through  weeks without a cancellation, even though the schedules have been [shuffled] a few times,” Wingo said. “And there still is that flexibility, there still is that possibility. The NFL has looked at the possibility of pushing back the Super Bowl by a week or two. [Those] are the potential scenarios because of the availability of the stadium in Tampa. They have the bye week that they can play with between the Super Bowl and the AFC and NFC championship games.”
Wingo has taken a new step in his career as a football analyst with his new podcast “Half-Forgotten Memories,” for which he invites sports legends and other special guests to recount great moments in football history.
“I’ve never approached a job about, ‘What’s my platform?’ or, ‘What’s my exposure?'” Wingo said. “I’ve always said to myself, ‘Can I have fun doing this?’ and then, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it’. I had the greatest job in the world at NFL Live, and doing the NFL Draft and going to the pro football draft every year.”
“Whatever I do next is going to be something I enjoy,” he added.
For more from Wingo, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox