The Baltimore Ravens learned the hard way how fast the narrative around a team can change. Heading into their Week 10 matchup against the Cleveland Browns, they were the hot new team when it came to Super Bowl predictions, coming off a 37-3 dismantling of the Seattle Seahawks for their fourth win in a row.
They looked well on their way to another dominant victory over their AFC North rivals in Week 10 before the wheels came off. The Ravens blew a 15-point second-half lead, as their stranglehold on the division lead is now tenuous.
A victory would have kept the Ravens 1.5 games ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who defeated the Green Bay Packers. Instead, they are a half-game ahead of Pittsburgh and Cleveland after losing 33-31.
Giving a game away in that fashion, given how tight the divisional race is, is an awful break for the Ravens. Things aren’t going to get any easier as they host the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11 before heading on the road to face the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 12.
Can the Ravens get back on track in those games? A former NFL star is concerned about what could come of the team. During a recent appearance on ESPN’s First Take, Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe revealed that he has some concerns about quarterback Lamar Jackson.
“What you can not do is turn the ball over,” Sharpe said on ESPN’s “First Take” program. “Do you realize that Lamar Jackson has thrown just as many touchdowns as Mac Jones? Lamar Jackson has fumbled the ball 10 times. … Do you realize Lamar Jackson has as many turnovers as touchdown passes? But see when we call that stuff out, ‘Oh y’all hating, y’all want the narrative, y’all trying to bring a brother down.’
“I don’t do conjecture. I don’t do innuendo and I don’t do speculation. Those are facts, you can go look them up at your choosing. Lamar Jackson has been up and down, and it’s been masked because they’re winning. Now that they didn’t win, and you see what is happened, it’s hard for me to trust him. It is hard for me to trust Lamar, it’s hard for me to trust this team.” (H/T AtoZ Sports)
The numbers are actually worse for Jackson than Sharpe revealed. After Sunday’s game, in which he threw two more interceptions, Jackson now has only 10 touchdown passes and 11 turnovers; five interceptions and six lost fumbles. Only Joshua Dobbs of the Minnesota Vikings has fumbled more times, 11, than Jackson, who has 10.
Having seven wins has certainly masked some of the shortcomings Jackson has had this season. As the great John Madden once said, “Winning is the best deodorant.” For Jackson and the Ravens, that has rung true in 2023 as his performance would be more heavily scrutinized if Baltimore wasn’t 7-3 and still in first place in the AFC North.