The Baltimore Ravens have plenty of work to do after their 33-27 overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 1. Fortunately for Baltimore, there are 16 games before the end of the regular season, and former Ravens offensive lineman Wally Williams is optimistic about the improvements that can be made internally with time.
The loss on “Monday Night Football” displayed a pass-protection effort that couldn’t keep up with the needs of the Ravens’ offense. Quarterback Jackson was sacked three times, thanks in large part to a stellar performance from Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby, who contributed two sacks of his own and hit Jackson five times in total.
Crosby had 13 pressures, most among anyone in Week 1, per Pro Football Focus. Tackles Alejandro Villanueva and Ronnie Stanley struggled on the edge, and Stanley reportedly suffered a setback with his surgically repaired left ankle. Starting left guard Tyre Phillips went down with an injury as well. Jackson threw for 235 yards and a touchdown but lost two fumbles as the Ravens squandered a late lead and a golden opportunity in overtime.
“Stanley, coming back from injury, he’s the seasoned veteran, and you get Villanueva from Pittsburgh, but he’s a first-time Raven. All these guys have to collectively learn how to play together,” Williams said on Glenn Clark Radio Sept. 15. “… They almost won that game with bad O-line play, so once these guys get on the same page, I think you’ll see those guys up front get a little better as we go.”
Baltimore is at its best when Jackson has time and space to let his explosive skills shine, and much of that stems from the play of the offensive line. If an experienced O-line gives Jackson that extra moment to find an open receiver or break off a run of his own, the Ravens will find success the rest of the way this season, according to Williams.
Williams, who played for Baltimore from 1996-1998, says the best bet is to give the current group time to gel rather than bringing in street free agents. However, with Stanley and Phillips on the shelf, that means the group will have to be shuffled once more.
“The Ravens’ offense is so unique to where you would want to have a guy come in who can actually be physical at the point of attack, be more of a run blocker kind of guy who can be physical in pass [protection] because a lot of things we see within our passing game depend on play action,” Williams said. “… You want to have a big, strong, physical guy out there. Now, where do you find those guys on the street?”
The responsibility also falls on other offensive contributors, such as running back Ty’Son Williams and tight end Mark Andrews, to help out in pass protection. Williams got beat in overtime by Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib, who forced the game-altering fumble.
“[Missing] big plays, blocks, assignments, all those things in this league, those things get players hurt. Those are things where players lose jobs,” Wally Williams said. “If you’re not focused for just one second, that’s when you lose games. For that to happen in that situation is definitely a learning experience [for Ty’Son Williams], but those are the growing pains that we have to deal with as a team.”
Ty’Son Williams, a former undrafted free agent who made his NFL regular-season debut against the Raiders, has shown the ability to contribute to the offense while he acclimates to the NFL game. The rookie totaled 65 yards on the ground with a touchdown and another 29 yards in the air on three receptions, coming up in big spots as a check-down option who could advance the ball after the catch.
Wally Williams believes the Ravens just need a little time to get up to speed as a team. But Baltimore will be faced with an even tougher task in Week 2 — containing Patrick Mahomes and the juggernaut that is the Kansas City Chiefs — than it had in Week 1.
“You just have to get ready for the next obstacle, or the next opponent. It does not get any easier as this thing goes, whether you’re trying to beat the [former Super Bowl] champs or people are trying to knock you off the throne,” Williams said. “All you can do is worry about every day in that building how we can get better and how we can make this team operational on so many levels.”
For more from Williams, listen to the full interview here:
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