Ravens vs. Saints Week 9 Scouting Report: Grades and Key Matchups

Odafe Oweh Jameis Winston Ravens vs. Saints 2021

This Scouting Report for Monday night’s Ravens-Saints game is produced by The 33rd Team’s Scouting Department, led by former Eagles, Cardinals, and Ravens personnel executive T.J. McCreight and assisted by scouts Justin Casey, Kevin Cohn, and Evan Pritt.

Chris Olave vs. Marcus Peters

  • This is a matchup between a young rookie bursting onto the scene and an experienced vet who has had success in the league. 
  • Olave is putting up big numbers to start his season. He leads all rookies with 547 yards receiving and targets with 57. He has also added two TDs to those numbers, as well. He has stepped up for the Saints in the absence of Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry. He is a tall but slender receiver who does not have great bulk on his frame. Olave is primarily an outside receiver who will line up on both sides of the formation. He has good speed off the line and uses quick feet to separate. He has the ability to run the entire route tree and does a good job sinking his hips to cut. He can beat you deep or he can run a five-yard comeback. He shows good body control on the sideline and great toughness over the middle. He is not a natural hands catcher, oftentimes letting the ball get in close and using his body to corral it. He will also have some drops due to trying to catch the ball with his body and not extending his arms/hands. He is showing the potential to be a top wide receiver in the league as long as he refines some of his weaknesses and gets a bit stronger.
  • Marcus Peters is a guy that needs to be accounted for in the secondary at all times. He is a good athlete who can run with the best of them on the outside. He has good short area quickness and reacts well to what is going on in front of him. He has good ball skills and the ability to take the ball away. He has 5 PBUs this season as well as an interception and a forced fumble. He is looking to get the ball out and create turnovers. Peters isn’t the most physical player, he relies more on his speed and instincts to be productive. I do not see this being a disadvantage in this matchup, as Olave is not a physical wide receiver. 
  • This will be an interesting matchup to watch when Olave and Peters line up across from each other. Olave is a young upstart player who has been very productive to start the season. Will Peters’ experience and instincts create issues for Olave, or will that be outweighed by Olave’s young developing talent? I think Peters has the advantage.

Justin Houston vs. James Hurst and Ryan Ramczyk

  • In his 12th year, the 33-year old Houston can still produce. He leads the Ravens with six sacks, with two in each of the last two games since returning from injury. He is getting sacks at a higher rate than any other down lineman or edge rusher in the league. He is purely a pass rush specialist at this point in his career. Of the 136 snaps that he has played this season, 120 of them came on QB dropbacks. 
  • Whether he has his hand down or he’s standing up, he has been aligned wide as an extreme wide 9-tech. He’s been aligned so far wide that he has been out the frame of the end zone angle at times. He rushes more from the right in the games viewed, but he will take reps on the left, too. 
  • He really manhandled Tampa LT Donovan Smith. He is a veteran with a full toolbox, but he will take some plays off if he thinks he has lost the rep. He shows a good double hand swipe to free him for an inside move. He likes to get up field with a little shake and then bull the tackle with his legs crossed up. He’s not going to dip and bend the edge with speed. If the tackle gets his hands on, the counter fight is pretty minimal from Houston.
  • The Saints are ranked ninth in sack rate allowed and fifth in pressure rate allowed. They have only allowed five sacks in the last seven games and none in the last two. They have kept the same group of five starters together for all except two games missed by LG Andrus Peat. The other four starters have played every snap of every game. 
  • RT Ryan Ramczyk has been one of the better right tackles in football for several years. He doesn’t have the longest arms, but he has most everything else you could want in a right tackle. He plays with good pad level, knee bend and posture. He is smooth in his kick set and patient with his hands. He can react and redirect to an inside move with clean feet. He hasn’t given up a sack one on one this season.
  • LT James Hurst has started 113 games in his career since entering the league as an undrafted free agent with Baltimore in 2014. That is a testament to his dependability for a player without elite athletic traits. It is very difficult for a player with average athletic ability to hold up at LT against the type of athletes you face on the edge. He is patient and stays square to rushers. His lack of knee bend, rounded back and lack of lower mass make it difficult for him to anchor vs. bull rushes. He has good initial quickness and gets into defenders on their run action protections. He doesn’t always look pretty but he gets the job done. He’s only been beaten cleanly for one sack this season, but Houston could give him some issues with build up speed from his extreme wide alignments.

Demario Davis & Pete Werner vs. Roquan Smith & Patrick Queen

  • Each team features a very good tandem of inside linebackers following the Ravens’ bold acquisition of Roquan Smith.
  • Smith leads the league in tackles and has 2.5 sacks and two interceptions.
  • Patrick Queen has 53 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Queen runs well and has a second gear that you want in a player that plays this position. He does a nice job with his hands and I like how he can open up, turn and run. 
  • Demario Davis leads all inside linebackers with five sacks and is tied for the team lead with Cam Jordan. Davis has played a lot of football and has seen everything you can see as a linebacker. What he may have lost in speed he makes up for with his instincts and his ability to quickly recognize a play and blocking scheme.  
  • Pete Werner is tied for third in the NFL in solo tackles and has two forced fumbles. Werner does not have top level physical ability but he is smart, tough and gives great effort.
  • I expect Roquan Smith to make an impact for the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens, unlike many teams now in the NFL, place a high value on the linebacker position.  
  • Teams don’t value this position as much as they did in the past for a variety of reasons. The days of an inside backer roaming the second level and knocking the stuffing out of a crossing receiver are long gone. Many of the hits that we saw Ray Lewis make are now outlawed and would be penalties. Inside linebackers don’t rush the passer, they don’t cover receivers and defending the run is not as important in many GMs’ minds in today’s pass happy league. Therefore, teams don’t want to use a high draft pick on an inside backer, and many certainly don’t want to pay them.  
  • The Ravens look at this position differently. The ‘Mike’ backer is the quarterback of the defense and runs the show for the front seven. This position can set the tone for the game and can be a factor in both the run and the pass game – this is a major reason the Ravens traded draft capital for Smith. The Mike linebacker must be a leader, tough, smart and capable of taking on blocks by people that may be a hundred pounds heavier.  
  • Roquan Smith is a perfect fit for this defense. He checks the boxes that the Ravens are looking to check. He has the speed and quickness to cover in the pass game and has the strength and toughness to make plays in the run game. When you watch Smith, focus on how quickly he can recognize a play in front. He can diagnose where the ball will be going based on the steps of the offensive linemen and the path that they take.  

Extra Points

  • Roquan Smith was brought in via trade at the deadline from Chicago. It will be interesting to see how much he plays having less than a week of preparation under his belt. 

Ravens’ Keys to Victory

Saints’ Keys to Victory

  • Win the battle at the line of scrimmage. This is not your typical Baltimore Ravens defense, they do not play with the great physicality that we are accustomed to. 
  • Protect the football. The Saints are a league worst -7 in turnover differential and the Ravens are tied for second-best at +6.
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