Michael Crabtree lands three-year deal with Baltimore Ravens

OWINGS MILLS, MD — The Baltimore Ravens have been making a lot of moves this week to try to bolster their wide receiver core. John Brown and Ryan Grant were both signed as soon as free agency opened, but the team backed out of their deal with Grant after seeing something pop up on his physical.

By voiding their contract with Grant, the Ravens gave themselves more money to pursue other free agents but also took a step back in their pursuit of building a complete offense. Their fortunes would change on Friday though, when recently-released Oakland Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree came to Owings Mills for a visit and left with a new three-year contract worth $21 million.

The 30-year-old receiver enters his tenth professional season in 2018. After being drafted by the 49ers, Crabtree spent six years in San Francisco. For the past three seasons he has put up some of the best numbers of his career while playing for the Oakland Raiders.

Crabtree averaged 77 receptions, 847 yards and eight touchdowns per season in his time with Oakland. After missing out on players like Jarvis Landry, Sammy Watkins and Allen Robinson, the Ravens finally found themselves a true veteran receiver to build around.

It’s hard to say where the Ravens will go from here. Mike Wallace has been a reliable target in Baltimore for the past two seasons, but there is some uncertainty as to whether he will receive a larger payday with another team. Bringing him back would surely do a lot to solidify a receiving core that was on life support just a week ago. Unfortunately, receivers are not the only need the Ravens have on their roster, so the front office’s attention could turn to another position before the draft.

Image credit: Cary Edmondson – USA Today Sports

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Ravens hold on for big road win against Oakland

OAKLAND — The Ravens entered Sunday’s game against Oakland with a two game losing streak and a lot of drama. Joe Flacco was slammed by fans and media alike all week after turning in another sub-par performance and the defense appeared to have lost their edge.

Despite all of this, the Ravens looked like a brand new team when they stepped on the field in Oakland. Even with a depleted line, Flacco and company put up 23 points of offense and jumped on a struggling Raiders team. The Ravens ended up winning 30-17, putting their season back on track.

In desperate need of a hot start, the Ravens offense came out of the gates with a quick touchdown drive. Joe Flacco connected with Mike Wallace for a 52-yard completion on the very first play from scrimmage. Third year tight end Vince Mayle capped off the drive with a nice end-around touchdown run.

The only wrinkle in the Ravens’ hot start was Terrance West going down with an injury. After busting a 13-yard run on a draw play, West was tackled and remained on the ground in pain. He would end up being carted off and ruled out for the remainder of the game.

The defense also got off to a great start. On the third play of Oakland’s first drive, Patrick Onwuasor forced Jared Cook to fumble and Jimmy Smith was right there to scoop it up and take it 47 yards the other way for a touchdown.

The Ravens maintained their lead and entered halftime up 24-10 thanks to a clock-eating touchdown drive and a field goal by Justin Tucker. By winning the time of position and turnover battle, the Ravens found more success in the first half than the past two weeks combined.

Both offenses stalled coming out of the half with a pair of three-and-outs. The Raiders put together a successful drive on their third possession of the half. Marshawn Lynch put the finishing touches on a 65-yard drive with a goal line touchdown run to cut the Baltimore lead to just seven.

With the Oakland crowd coming back to life it looked like the Ravens were in serious trouble. Flacco led his team down the field for a much needed score. The veteran QB looked like the “Joe cool” we all know and love with the game on the line.

There were two crucial third down scenarios on the drive and Flacco found the open man each time to keep the drive alive. The offense pounded their way into the red zone and had a 1st-and-goal situation, but failed to put seven on the board. Instead, they would settle for a field goal to put them back up by 10.

On the ensuing Oakland possession, the Raiders moved the ball just into Ravens territory before being shut down and forced to punt. The drive shaved an additional four minutes off the clock and put the ball back in the Ravens hands with just under nine minutes to play.

For the first time in weeks, the offensive line played a quality game and allowed Alex Collins and Javorius Allen to run downhill with ease. This was on full display in the fourth quarter when the Ravens running backs picked up 42 yards on the ground to put the game on ice. Tucker added his third field goal of the afternoon and the Ravens went on to win 30-17.

In addition to West’s injury on the first drive, the Ravens lost two more players over the course of Sunday’s win. Both Carl Davis and Matt Skura went down with leg injuries and neither one was able to return. Jimmy Smith’s health was also a big question mark. Despite having a big impact on the game with his fumble recovery, Smith was seen standing on the sideline for most of the afternoon. He only played seven snaps on defense, still dealing with an Achilles injury.

Snapping a two game losing streak looked like a long shot coming into this game, especially with all the injuries. However, the offense proved that they can get the job done even with a depleted core. A Steelers loss makes the win even sweeter as the AFC North rivals find themselves tied for the division lead once again. The Ravens will return home next weekend for a 1:00 pm matchup against the Chicago Bears.

Image Credit: USA Today 

Game Preview: Struggling Ravens head to west coast to face Raiders

OAKLAND, CA — Just two weeks ago, the Ravens flew high with a 2-0 record. Following a trip to London and a tangle with the Steelers, the Ravens came back down to Earth, now owning a 2-2 record and trying to stay afloat in the brutal AFC North Division. On Sunday, the Ravens will play in a third time zone in as many weeks with a trip to Oakland, where the Raiders await.

Oakland finds itself in a similar circumstance. Just like Baltimore, the Raiders emerged victorious in their first two games against the Titans and Jets, and then slipped to the Redskins and Broncos. The Raiders share a similar trait with the Ravens in the injury department. Several starters on both sides of the ball face nagging injuries, and now quarterback Derek Carr‘s name falls on the injury report.

High expectations surrounded the Ravens and Raiders for 2017, and neither team expected to hold a 2-2 record entering week 5. This may not be a divisional game, but it’s a crucial one. The winner will sport a winning record, and pick up a conference win that could help them later in the season.

Ravens’ last time in Oakland: In 2019, the Raiders will move from Oakland to Las Vegas. These two teams will meet again next season, but that matchup will take place in Baltimore. A listing of the Ravens’ future opponents through 2019 can be found here.

Injury Report (as of Oct. 6):

Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 12.09.38 PM.png

Friday notes: Smith returned to practice, as did Hill. John Harbaugh said he will play on Sunday. Smith has been dealing with Achilles soreness for a few weeks, put played through it. He also welcomed a baby into the world this week. Hill has not yet played this season. after an impressive preseason. Watson and M. Williams also returned to practice on Friday. Watson may play, Williams will not. B. Williams and Terrell Suggs did not practice on Friday. Probably a veterans day off for Suggs; Williams is out.

*Limited Practice (LP), Full Practice (FP), Did Not Practice (DNP)

Screenshot Credit: Baltimore Ravens

Details:

Where: Oakland Alameda Coliseum in Oakland, California

When: Sunday, Oct. 8, 4:05 pm EST

Network & Commentators: CBS, Greg Gumbel and Trent Green

Game coverage: Ravens fans can catch the game on their local CBS station. Fans out of market can watch on NFL Sunday Ticket. Gerry Sandusky has the call on WBAL 1090, 98 Rock, and gameday audio will also stream on the Baltimore Ravens website.

Weather: Looking at The Weather Channel, the temperature in Oakland on Sunday looks promising. There’s a high of 77 degrees Fahrenheit, and a low of 58. Winds will blow west at 10-15 MPH. There’s a 10% chance of rain.

Offensive Offense? 

Ravens offensive stats.jpg

That graphic says it all. With Joe Flacco‘s back injury and the state of the offensive line, expectations for the offense became low. In the first two Ravens games, the offense got help with the defense forcing 10 combined turnovers. The defense has not played as well in the last two games, and its taking its toll on the offense.

Even with the offensive line in shambles, Flacco needs to play better. Out of all 32 starting quarterbacks, Flacco has the worst QBR (65.0) and its not close. Ahead of Flacco stands Jay Cutler (80.4 QBR). To put things in perspective, the Dolphins have been shut out two games in a row.

Flacco needs to get the ball to the receivers more. The Ravens’ top three receivers have yet to make a difference in a game. Jeremy Maclin (10 catches, two TD), Mike Wallace (nine catches, one TD), and Breshad Perriman (two catches) need to do a better job catching the football too. Watson leads the team in receiving with 16 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown.

The defense needs to carry some of the blame too. With B. Williams in the lineup, the defense has given up 10 points. Without him, they have given up 70 points. Offenses, particularly running backs, are taking advantage of Williams’ absence. The Ravens will not have Williams again this week, but Oakland’s running attack has not taken off so far this season. That, coupled along with the absence of Carr, should bode well for Baltimore.

Graphic Credit: Evin Hartsock 

Scouting Oakland:

  • Carr will miss Sunday’s game after suffering back spasms in Oakland’s 16-10 loss to the Denver Broncos last week. Carr, who is 2-0 with a 110.6 rating against the Ravens (seven touchdown passes, one interception) will miss 2-6 games.
  • In Carr’s place, former Bills first round pick E.J. Manuel will start against Baltimore. Manuel went 11-for-17 for 106 yards and an interception last week against Denver. Manuel is 1-0 against the Ravens in his career. He has 3,608 career passing yards, 19 touchdowns and 16 interceptions (76.9 QBR).
  • Other injury notes: WR Michael Crabtree (chest) missed last week’s game, but is probable for Sunday. Crabtree leads all Oakland receivers with three touchdowns on 16 receptions. WR Amari Cooper (knee) and RB DeAndre Washington (hamstring) are probable as well. DE Mario Edwards (back), G Gabe Jackson (foot), CB Keith McGill (foot), DB David Emerson (concussion), and CB Gareon Conley (shin) are all questionable.
  • After taking a year off, 31-year-old running back Marshawn Lynch has yet to rush for 100 yards in a game. His highest rushing total so far? 76 yards against the Titans in week 1. He has one rushing touchdown this season.
  • Right now, the Raiders possess the 15th-ranked offense and the 13th-ranked defense. Oakland has been penalized 25 times for 238 yards, where their opponents got penalized 26 times for 213 yards.

Image Credit: SFBay.ca