The Baltimore Ravens haven’t lost a step
Baltimore’s opening week performance should terrify the rest of the NFL. The preseason favorites to win the AFC looked every bit the part of a Super Bowl contender in a 38-6 blowout win against the Cleveland Browns.
Let’s get through the negatives first. The Ravens’ offensive line struggled at times. Losing Marshal Yanda at guard was clearly going to hurt, and that showed at times against Cleveland, who managed to get pressure on Lamar Jackson more than a few times.
And that’s… pretty much it. From top to bottom, with the exception of some less-than-stellar protection on a few plays, looked exactly like the team that went 14-2 in 2019. Maybe even a bit better.
Jackson’s play was, once again, at an MVP level. You don’t need me to explain to you that 275 yards and three touchdowns through the air on just five incompletions is impressive. But Jackson’s play was boosted by a supporting cast of pass-catchers that played better than advertised. Mark Andrews continued his brilliance at tight end, catching two touchdowns in the first half alone. But more impressive than Andrews was Marquise Brown, a second-year receiver who flashed some stellar play his rookie year, but looks improved across the board in his second-season debut. He could be a true WR1 in the Baltimore offense.
The defense for Baltimore was even better. The defensive line, now featuring the talents of Calais Campbell, looked like game-wreckers– creating pressure against a Browns’ offensive line with five talented starters. Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey played like lockdown corners for most of the game, keeping the Cleveland pass-catchers from doing much of anything through the contest.
Even the so-called “weakness” of the Ravens team, the linebacking corps, played a great game. Baltimore’s two sacks of the game both belonged to the linebacker group, with the rookie Patrick Queen accounting for one of them in what was a stellar debut. Queen, leading the way in total tackles for the Ravens, might have made an early Defensive Rookie of The Year statement with his first game as a pro.
The Cleveland Browns didn’t do themselves any favors; and looked far from a capable team in Week One. But don’t get it twisted, the blowout was more due to the Ravens’ brilliance than Cleveland’s own ineptitude. Baltimore might be on pace to run the NFL once again.