OWINGS MILLS — Marcus Williams has already contributed three interceptions in two games since joining the Baltimore Ravens.
Problem is, that’s not really the story when it comes to this team’s secondary.
As the Ravens prepare for this week’s trip to New England, they’re trying to figure out how to avoid a repeat of Sunday’s fourth-quarter collapse in their 42-38 loss to Miami. Baltimore allowed four touchdown passes in that final period and six in the game, and in the aftermath of those defensive breakdowns, the question is whether it’s an issue of talent, health, experience or preparation.
Or perhaps some combination of the above.
“Last week was last week. We’re just going to prepare and get ready for the game,” Williams said Wednesday. “We’re going to take our time this week and dial in to the things that we have to do to prepare for this game, so we don’t have what we had last week.”
The Ravens ranked last in the NFL against the pass a season ago, but they took steps to improve their defensive backfield in the offseason, acquiring Williams via free agency and drafting safety Kyle Hamilton in the first round. Cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters have both made multiple Pro Bowls, so on paper, Baltimore should certainly be better than it showed last weekend.
Humphrey, however, was nursing a groin issue last week, and Peters was in his first game back after missing the whole 2021 season with a knee injury. Neither was at practice Wednesday.
Defensive back Brandon Stephens (quad) didn’t play Sunday and was limited in practice Wednesday.
“This week, most of everybody should be back. I’m hoping, crossing my fingers I’ll be back this week,” Stephens said. “We’re just trying to get healthy.”
As for Hamilton, he’s played about half the defensive snaps through two games, and some growing pains were probably inevitable. Cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis, a fourth-round pick this year, played sparingly on defense in the opener but was out there for over half the snaps against Miami.
“We’re all here to play. We always expect to play. We never step out there not expecting to play,” Armour-Davis said. “It was exciting.”
The most glaring miscues came when the Ravens let Tyreek Hill behind them for touchdown catches of 48 and 60 yards. Coach John Harbaugh explained these plays in good detail, although without naming names.
“We didn’t play the technique right on the post to our defensive left. You have to stay on top of that as a corner. You have to stay on top of that as a safety. It’s three-deep coverage. Those guys know that,” Harbaugh said. “Then the other one was we didn’t have anybody in the deep half. 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.”
On his first touchdown, Hill ran past Peters to the inside, and Hamilton wasn’t in great position to provide help. The speedy receiver was even more open on the next TD. No Baltimore defender was all that close to the area where the ball was thrown.
Communication has been a buzzword in the aftermath of the loss. That’s the type of thing that can improve as young players gain experience, but it’s a big part of the attention to detail that is necessary to win.
“Just doing it out at practice, talking about it in the film room,” Williams said. “If we keep doing that week in and week out, it will take care of itself on the field on game day.”
Lamar Jackson had a brilliant game against Miami, but he was limited in practice Wednesday because of an elbow issue. Both Jackson and Harbaugh said the injury was no big deal.
Jackson had this to say when asked if he threw passes during practice Wednesday: “No, I’m going to throw Sunday. A lot Sunday.”