The Breakdown: Eisenberg’s Five Thoughts on Season-Opening Win - John Eisenberg
It’s just one game, but something tells me the Ravens might not challenge the NFL’s single-season team rushing record, which they set last year. I’m not suggesting that because their ground game has taken a step backward, but rather, because Jackson and the passing game seemingly have taken the step forward that the organization expected, which could result in a more balanced attack. The passing game certainly was the difference-maker in this game. The score was still close when Jackson started firing completions to Mark Andrews, Hollywood Brown and Willie Snead IV on touchdown drives of 99 and 69 yards just prior to halftime. The receivers were open, but it was Jackson who made the plays, using his legs to avoid pressure while exhibiting an enhanced level of touch on his passes. Yes, he tossed a league-high 36 touchdown passes a year ago, so the air game was hardly a liability. But it was more polished Sunday, better at stretching the field. The tight ends caught more passes than the receivers in many games in 2019, but not so Sunday. Led by Brown, the wideouts posted 13 of the team’s 20 receptions.
Short takes: The Ravens’ new-look run defense didn’t have the debut it wanted, as the Browns averaged 5.1 yards per carry on 27 rushes. It didn’t really matter once the Ravens had a big lead, and the Browns’ ground game is going to give a lot of opponents trouble this season, but the Ravens are expecting better … The Ravens’ offensive line was the scene of some drama. You had Phillips winning the battle to replace Marshal Yanda at right guard. You had Matt Skura starting at center, capping a remarkable comeback from his major knee injury just 10 months ago. Finally, you had All-Pro tackle Ronnie Stanley going out with an ankle injury, just what the Ravens didn’t want. But it isn’t a serious injury, Harbaugh said … You won’t see many better catches than Andrews’ one-handed grab for the Ravens’ first touchdown of 2020 … It was a relatively quiet day for the Ravens’ rushing attack, which didn’t surpass 100 yards until late in the fourth quarter. Dobbins, Mark Ingram II and Gus Edwards combined to rush for 68 yards on 21 carries … This makes 13 straight regular-season wins for the Ravens.
STORY OF THE GAME
On the other side of the field, Lamar Jackson had his way with the Browns defense. Whether he was pressured (9-of-11 for 114 yards), kept clean (12-of-15 for 168 yards), off play-action (7-of-7 for 110 yards) or just a straight dropback (14-of-19 for 172 yards), he continually made the right reads and threw the ball accurately. There was talk in the offseason that the world needed to see more of Lamar in close game situations to see what he is made of when defenses can key on the passing game. That didn’t happen, as the Ravens took a 10-0 lead and didn’t look back.
Mark Andrews was the quarterback’s top target with five catches on seven targets, with two contested catches and a nifty one-handed catch for the first touchdown of the season for the Ravens. Marquise Brown flashed on some downfield throws and finished with a whopping 4.50 yards per route run as the 2020 Ravens offense picked up right where it left off from last year’s regular season.
Without Hayden Hurst after an offseason trade to Atlanta, Baltimore played more from two-tight-end sets after leading the league in three-tight-end sets last season. They finished with the same number of snaps with two tight ends on the field as they did with three wide receivers.
Ravens rookie J.K. Dobbins had two goal line touchdowns, but the rock was spread around between the Ravens rushers as he finished with only six carries. Dobbins forced one missed tackle on those six runs and finished with 3.8 yards per carry and 2.2 yards after contact. Rookie linebacker Patrick Queen forced a fumble and had six tackles — with three defensive stops — and also his first NFL sack. Unfortunately, he allowed both targets that came his way in coverage to be caught for 20 yards total.
What we learned from Sunday’s Week 1 games - Nick Shook
Calais Campbell is Baltimore’s best defender and is going to cause problems for every opponent all season long. Campbell immediately made an impact, batting down a second-down attempt on Cleveland’s opening possession and then tipping a pass, resulting in a Marlon Humphrey interception on the very next play. Even as Nick Chubb got going on the ground, Campbell was there to cut him down and limit his gains. The Ravens won 14 games last season and got better, starting with the addition of Campbell.
Continuity might be more important to team success this season than any other. It was painfully evident in almost every aspect of the game which team returned the same coaching staff from 2019. The Browns got the worst Week 1 draw in the league in Baltimore, and they’ll need some time to work out the kinks, but the teams with established continuity are going to gain huge advantages early in this season. That was no more apparent anywhere in the NFL on Sunday than in Baltimore.
Ravens’ Lamar Jackson resumes MVP form in season opener - Jamison Hensley
He was 9-of-10 for 180 yards on throws of 10 yards or more downfield, including a 19-yard touchdown pass to Willie Snead (which traveled 18 yards in the air). That’s the most such completions in a game in Jackson’s career.
Last season, Jackson completed just 49.2% of passes over 10 yards, which ranked 19th in the NFL.
Describe the game in two words: Another blowout. This marks the third straight season in which the Ravens won a season opener by more than 30 points.