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Monday Hangover: Week 1

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A coming out party for the ages

Baltimore Ravens v Miami Dolphins Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

Welcome to the Monday Hangover, a weekly column where Jake is here to answer any lingering questions you may have about the Ravens (or the rest of the league) coming out of the weekend, and take a quick look around the division/league. Enjoy, and power through your Monday with some light Ravens reading, and leave a comment with your thoughts down below!

Well, that was a hell of a lot of fun. The Ravens went into week 1 with a ton of questions hanging over them - how was this offense going to come together? How would the defense look up front after a few key losses? Would they be able to fully bring it on the road, in some serious early season Miami heat?

Well they were (for the most part) answered, and answered in some serious style. So let’s take a look at some questions you guys may have leaving the weekend. And no, none of them relate to Super Bowl parade planning just yet. I hope you’ll read through anyway.

Was what we saw offensively sustainable?

Baltimore Ravens v Miami Dolphins Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

The short and somewhat disappointing answer to that question is no. It’s complicated from there, though.

Obviously the Ravens aren’t going to be dropping upwards of 50 (or even 40) points per week, but that’s a bit too high of a benchmark to set, even for an offense like Kansas City or New England. What you did see today though, is that hitting that watermark is possible.

In an offseason where there were questions about whether this attack would even work on a basic level, you just saw the ideal version of it in the very first go round. While we shouldn’t be expecting Lamar and the passing game to be fully in sync, and the running backs to be chunking their way forward for significant gains play after play every single week, we now know that there’s a universe where that type of game exists.

While it’s unrealistic to expect it from week to week, this offense just showed you that it can break records when firing on all cylinders. Considering it was a running gag that the lead triggerman supposedly couldn’t even throw a football for the last six months, that’s pretty much all you need to hear on this question.

Is Hollywood Brown the Ravens No. 1 receiver?

Baltimore Ravens v Miami Dolphins Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

Tough to tell at this point, but in all practicality, the answer is probably not just yet. Yeah, he had a massive game, but what you saw was essentially an exaggerated version of what to expect from him this year.

He’s a well-rounded enough guy to become the top option for this offense soon, but this year projects to be one in which he’s slowly worked into the role. In fact, it might be fair to say there won’t be a legit #1 receiver in this offense. Snead is the possession guy, Boykin is your red zone threat, and Hollywood is the burner in the same mold of what you saw today.

That is, a scary deep threat with potential to score every single time he touches the ball. With two long touchdowns on his first two NFL touches, he proved that in spades today.

Is the offensive line officially settled?

Baltimore Ravens v Miami Dolphins Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

It’s tough to tell at this point, but the arrow is pointing up for a couple of guys who were very much seen as question marks in the trenches for Baltimore. That would be center Matt Skura, and whoever was going to be starting at left guard.

We learned today that man is Bradley Bozeman, who on the very first drive sprung a key block to get Mark Ingram free on his long run to open the game. Skura was solid up front as well, and those two held their own to the point that they’ve earned the right to head into Week 2 as the unquestioned starters at their positions.

Do we feel any better about the pass rush?

Baltimore Ravens v Miami Dolphins Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

Not just yet, but cautious optimism is perfectly understandable. The Ravens rushers didn’t get all the way home too often today, but they hit Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen what felt like a dozen times each.

Matt Judon did well today with a sack and an absolute blowup of a running back well behind the line of scrimmage, and the rest of the rush got up and into the pocket consistently play in and play out. That includes some really nice effort plays by guys like Tyus Bowser, Pernell McPhee, and Tim Williams who many were fair to question as legitimate options for a contending team.

This still has the feel of a squad that’s going to have to manufacture sacks to an extent, but Wink Martindale showed the chops to be able to do so today.

Does this count?

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, yes it does. This win comes against a totally hapless roster constructed by a front office that has eyes for Tua Tagovailoa or Trevor Lawrence many, many moons from now, but it’s a big win nonetheless. Week 1, with all the pressure and hype to beat and live up to, the offense exceeded expectations and the defense played up to their usual stellar par.

Good teams blow out bad teams, and Baltimore took care of business against what’s likely to be the worst team in the league this season. Like a good team would, they did so in a big time way, and announced that they’re ready for some more serious competition, which they’ll be getting soon enough.

The final scoreline isn’t what matters; what matters is that the Ravens showed their class, and Lamar Jackson showed that he is not, in fact, a running back.

AFC North whiparound

  • The Bengals looked especially frisky today after a doom and gloom offseason had their fanbase questioning pretty much everything. Moral victories don’t mean much in the NFL, but for a team that was projected to be a basement dweller going into Century Link and giving the Seahawks everything they’ve got, that’s certainly a nice feather in their cap in this opening week.
  • The Steelers went into Foxboro and pretty much played exactly to script. The Steelers will probably be fine, and definitely figure to be in the mix for the division this year; it’s just always funny to watch them go into New England and put on this exact same performance every single time.
  • You almost feel bad for Browns fans here, even after an offseason in which some of their fanbase reeked of ‘16-’17 era Warriors vibes (after a 7-8-1 season). They drop what is probably their biggest game this century after all of that hype, and do so after an abysmal fourth quarter from their savior Baker Mayfield. Like Pittsburgh, I have a feeling Cleveland will be fine in the long run; it’s just nice to see some of the more boisterous among their supporters have to take a big helping of humble pie to the dome.