John Harbaugh Breaks Down Ravens’ Biggest ‘Blown Coverages’ vs. Miami

Ravens HC John Harbaugh

Getty Ravens HC John Harbaugh on the sidelines in a regular season game on September 18, 2022.

Before the Baltimore Ravens fully turn the page on their epic Week 2 collapse in which they let the Miami Dolphins scored 28 points in the final 15 minutes of the game, they must first learn from their mistakes.

Miscommunications in the secondary led to a number of big plays and in his press conference on Monday, September 19, head coach John Harbaugh shed some light and broke down what went wrong on the pair of long touchdowns that made it a one-score game and then tied it with less than five and a half minutes left.

Both quick-strike scores went for over 40 yards, came on third-and-long, and went to a wide-open Tyreek Hill on what Harbaugh said were “blown coverages, basically” where the cornerback thought they had safety help over top.

The first was a 48-yarder in which Hill got a step behind his former Kansas City Chiefs teammate and veteran cornerback Marcus Peters and rookie safety Kyle Hamilton came over too late to help break up the underthrown pass.

“You have to stay on top of that as a corner; you have to stay on top of that as a safety,” Harbaugh said. “It’s three deep coverage; those guys know that.

“You have to maintain your leverage on the routes. When you’re a deep player and there are guys running vertical, [if] you’re a deep player you stay deep. You don’t get nosy on a crossing route when you have a deep route running up on you.”

The second one that tied the game capped off a three-play drive and was the most egregious of the two blown coverages because there wasn’t a defender within 20 yards of Hill at the time the ball was thrown. Rookie cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis didn’t turn and run with Hill up the left sideline because he was clearing expecting safety over the top that never came.

“We didn’t have anybody in the deep half,” Harbaugh said. “That was a miscommunication if you want to call it that, and the deep half player didn’t realize he was a deep half player and he needs to get back there.

“If you’re a deep half player, you have to know you’re a deep half player and be back there. We can’t leave the deep half uncovered. So, we show them a blitz and we’re running it out, someone has to be back there, and that’s the responsibility of the person and the coach, all of us to get that done.”

He didn’t directly throw any one player under the bus or point the blame for the coverage busts in any particular direction. Although, he made it clear with his comments that youth and inexperience played a major factor in those critical mistakes but said that there is a “good chance” that they will have their more season players at cornerback specifically healthy and available going forward.

Odafe Oweh Has ‘Got to Play Better’

Coming into the season, the 2021 first-round edge defender was being talked about as a potential breakout candidate alongside second-year wideout Rashod Bateman who has been sensational so far. NBC Sports’ Peter King even went as far as to predict that he’d contend for the Defensive Player of the Year award.

However, through the first two games, Oweh has yet to record his first sack of the season and according to Pro Football Reference, has just two pressures and two hurries despite playing 81 percent of the team’s total defensive snaps in Week 1 and 82 percent in Week 2. After a strong rookie campaign where he recorded five sacks and 15 quarterback hits in 15 games, opposing teams are devoting more effort and blockers to slowing him down and are avoiding running plays to his side completely at times but the Ravens need more out of him regardless.

“He has got to play better, like all of us do,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve got to coach better, got to play better, and you’ve got to make a name for yourself out there. You’ve got to do go do it.”

While his pass rush production has been lackluster thus far, 12-year veteran outside linebacker Justin Houston’s hasn’t. The four-time Pro Bowler has played less than 70 percent of the team’s total defensive snaps in the first two games yet has had a sack in each and could’ve had or just missed out on a couple more and has also recorded three quarterback hits, eight pressures, one knockdown, and five hurries.

Ravens TE Nick Boyle Is ‘Close to 100%’

Switching over the offensive side of the ball, the Ravens’ running game has been nonexistent through the first two games of the season outside of some key explosive runs from quarterback Lamar Jackson.

While a lot of the blame has been placed at the feet of the offensive line and running back depth chart, both of which are without their best player in left tackle Ronnie Stanley and running back J.K. Dobbins, they are also missing the presence of another player that has been just as integral to their rushing success over the years and especially since Jackson became the full-time starter.

Boyle is one of the best blocking tight ends when healthy who essentially serves as both an extra lineman on the end of the line or another fullback in the backfield. He is capable of making lead, clearout, and kick-out blocks to spring ball carriers into the second and third levels of the defense. The eighth-year veteran hasn’t been fully healthy since he suffered a catastrophic knee injury in Week 10 of the 2020 season that limited him to just five games and 95 total offensive snaps in 2021.

After being inactive for the first two weeks of the season despite participating in practice leading up to each game, Harbaugh said that Boyle is “close to 100 percent” and the likelihood of him making his 2022 debut in Week 3 against the New England Patriots, the team he sustained his injury playing, is high.

“There is a good chance he’ll be out there this week,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll just have to see. We’ve got some guys who are doing well. Josh Oliver has been playing pretty darn good. So, it just has to do with the right formula right now. I think we’re blessed with some talent there, so you don’t have to rush Nick [Boyle] back, necessarily, but I wouldn’t mind putting Nick out there at all right now [with] the way he’s practicing. So, we’ll see.”

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