Browns’ performance on the left side served as a short-term fix and part of the answer to the swing tackle question that had lingered since the March release of veteran James Hurst, but seeing the 2018 third-round pick at left tackle also provided useful information for the organization. After all, general manager Eric DeCosta and the Ravens are evaluating their long-term relationship with the 26-year-old Stanley, who’s widely regarded as one of the very best left tackles in football.
Some have pondered in recent years whether we’ve passed the peak of how teams should value left tackles, especially with defenses becoming more inclined to move elite pass rushers to the opposite side of the formation anyway. And when you consider quarterbacks getting rid of the ball more and more quickly as well as the rise of mobile signal-callers such as Jackson, it’s fair to wonder whether paying top-of-the market money to a left tackle is the optimal use of resources. That’s why getting the opportunity to see Brown — scheduled to become a free agent after 2021 — play left tackle was valuable with Stanley having missed at least one game in each of his five seasons.
To be clear, this story appears to be far from its conclusion as using the franchise tag would be an easy choice for the Ravens if the sides haven’t worked out a long-term agreement before March.
Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson ‘not happy’ with Ravens’ passing offense - Jamison Hensley
“No, I’m not happy because I would like to connect with my guys on those passes,” Jackson said Wednesday. “I feel like there are a lot of yards and touchdowns we’ve been leaving on the field when we don’t connect. That’s probably why our passing isn’t where it’s supposed to be. But I feel it’s early in the season.”
Jackson’s accuracy has improved slightly. His completion rate is 68.4%, which is up from 66.1% last season.
The biggest problem has been connecting on his deep throws, which was a focus of his in the offseason. Jackson has completed 5 of 16 passes (31.3%) that have traveled at least 20 yards in the air, which ranks 26th in the NFL.
Last Sunday against Jacksonville, Burrow got his first NFL win and league record, becoming the first rookie to throw for 300-plus yards in three straight games. He’s not at Jackson’s level yet, but he’s off to a strong start.
“That’s pretty remarkable, to say the least,” Harbaugh said of Burrow’s record. “He looks good. Obviously, he did it in college, he was the top pick in the draft. There are high expectations and he’s fulfilling them.”
“I like his game,” Jackson said. “Obviously he broke records for passing yards in consecutive weeks. That’s dope. But I don’t wish him success against us. I want to win.”
The Ravens are 17-2 all-time against rookie quarterbacks at home.
“It was a crazy relationship between us,” Queen said. “Word got out that things got heated sometimes. That’s just the competitor in both of us. We’re still good friends to this day. Joe’s a great guy, great competitor. Day 1 when he came in, he went to work against all of us [on defense]. I’m looking forward to this rematch.”
While things were slightly better last week, no quarterback has faced more pressured dropbacks than Joe Burrow through four weeks, and his 36.9% pressure rate is the eighth-highest in the league. It won’t get any easier this week against the Ravens and their aggressive scheme that has blitzed 47.2% of the time, second-highest in the NFL.
It’s another test for a Bengals offensive line that has the third-lowest pass-blocking grade (59.5) in the league, and it’s yet another challenge for Burrow, who ranks ninth among quarterbacks with a 79.9 overall grade. While the stat sheet hasn’t matched Burrow’s level of play, the rookie has impressed with his accuracy and decision-making, all while being forced to play under extreme pressure from opposing defenses.
This week, the Ravens will send linebackers and safeties from all angles, and it will be on Burrow to find open receivers among the confusion while ensuring that the offensive line has the proper protection calls. The Bengals use “empty” sets more than any team in the league, and that’s where Burrow must shine against Baltimore’s defensive chess game. Keep an eye on rookie wide receiver Tee Higgins, too, who has earned over seven targets per game over the last three weeks. Higgins’ connection with Burrow is crucial for the future of Cincinnati’s passing attack.
This will be Joe Burrow against that attacking, blitzing defense of the Ravens. He’s been good so far, but can he and his line hold up here? I don’t think they can. Lamar Jackson will have a field day against the Bengals defense. This won’t be pretty.
Pick: Ravens 37, Bengals 21