With a strange offseason and absence of preseason, the Ravens still managed to prepare and execute a game plan to begin their 2020 campaign 1-0. There was an overwhelming amount of good but there is still some bad and a little bit of ugly to no longer gloss over.
A dominant win over an AFC North opponent: The Ravens didn’t allow a silent home stadium keep them from completing the objective. They started fast and hung 24 points on the Cleveland Browns before halftime, including a 99-yard touchdown drive.
Lamar Jackson shared the wealth: Seven different Ravens caught passes from Jackson, including rookie wide receiver Devin Duvernay. Though he favored his playmakers, he didn’t force passes in their direction, forcing the Browns’ defenders to respect their assignment.
Offensive playmakers finished drives: Twice, we witnessed Mark Andrews reel in passes from Lamar Jackson. Twice, we saw the rookie running back J.K. Dobbins cross the goal line. These two, along with Marquise Brown, Willie Snead IV and, of course, Lamar Jackson, did everything they could to keep the Browns from marching back.
Reading the fake punt: The fake punt itself was ugly but Anthony Levine Sr. and L.J. Fort sniffing that out was brilliance.
No Yanda? No problem: Rookie offensive lineman Tyre Phillips’ assignment today was to play right guard for the Baltimore Ravens. A gig long secured by All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda. Clearly, if this wasn’t mentioned, he did an excellent job. At no point were broadcasters or Twitter pointing out how, “The Ravens must be missing Yanda right now!”
Rookies as a whole: First-round pick Patrick Queen notched a sack, a forced fumble and five tackles. Second-round pick J.K. Dobbins scored two touchdowns. Third-round pick Devin Duvernay broke loose on a kickoff for 38 yards and added a 12-yard reception. Third-round pick Malik Harrison had a pass defensed which helped lead to a defensive stop. Third-round pick Tyre Phillips played great along the offensive line. That’s some fantastic contribution by a rookie class.
Defense settled in: The Browns rushed for over 130 yards, and while that’s problematic, the Ravens only allowed one score. The Browns scored only six points. They forced takeaways, stops and punts. They bullied Baker Mayfield into throwaways. They settled in and won.
Ronnie Stanley suffered an ankle injury: While Ravens head coach John Harbaugh stated it was not serious, it is still an injury to an important player at an important position.
Run defense is still suspect: The Browns run game is something the Ravens have not yet defended successfully in terms of yards. Yes, they did not allow touchdown today but allowing 5.0 yards per carry is bad. They know it and Harbaugh said so already.
Red zone turnovers: Pat Ricard was handed the football near the goal line and it did not look good. The carry wasn’t solid and the lost fumble was a shift in momentum. However, he made up for it on a play-action pass which gained a first down on the 99-yard touchdown drive later on.
James Proche II’s misread on the punt: He’s a rookie and things like this happen. It did not matter in the grand scheme, in fact it turned into a net positive as the Ravens drove 99-yards down the field and scored a touchdown for the third time in franchise history. Just a small, albiet ugly, mistake that the special teams coaches will help fix this week.