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“Primetime Jet” makes the Ravens offense take off

When Marquise Brown plays decisively, the Ravens offense elevates

Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

In April of 2019, the Baltimore Ravens took the first wide receiver in the draft off the board. “With the 25th pick, the Baltimore Ravens select Marquise Brown, wide receiver, the University of Oklahoma.”

Brown was an an intriguing pick for several reasons. He was the smallest receiver ever taken in the first round, weighing in at 166 pounds. He also had a foot injury and was recovering from intensive surgery, which required two screws and rehabilitation that would limit his rookie season. He was unable to join in full team activities until late August, before finally getting run. He was limited to only 12 snaps in the Ravens season opener, but as we all know, made the absolute most out of them.

It appeared that the Ravens finally drafted a game changing receiver. Brown followed up his massive Week 1 performance with eight receptions for 86 yards and a game winning catch against the Arizona Cardinals. The Ravens rejoiced. Their star receiver was finally born.

From that point forward, Brown struggled with injury and recorded over 80 yards only once. He missed two games during the middle of the season, and took on a reputation that involved protecting himself, as opposed to fighting for yards. His presence was felt, but clearly hobbled, he wasn’t the dominant speed demon that he showed when he was catching passes from Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray in Norman.

The Ravens went on a historic tear, leading the NFL in points scored by a wide margin. Brown, who has dubbed himself “Primetime Jet”, exploded in the Ravens 2020 Divisional Round loss to the Tennessee Titans. He made play after play, doing his part to help the Ravens try to overcome a two and three score deficit. The Ravens ultimately fell short, falling 28-12 in one of the most shocking losses in franchise history.

Fast forward a year, Brown got off to another fast start. He was removed from the foot injury, and posting ridiculous workout tapes almost daily. He posted a clip of his weight, which was up to 181, 15 pounds more than he was listed when he was drafted. It seemed Hollywood was due for his breakout year.

He went for 101 yards in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns, averaging 63 yards per game over the Ravens first six games (on pace for just over 1,000 yards.)

Life was good, the Ravens got off to a 5-1 start, looking again like one of the most dangerous teams in the league. However, there was a disconnect at times in the passing game. Brown and Lamar Jackson struggled to connect on several deep balls against the Chiefs. Brown wasn’t dominating, but he was a factor. The Ravens hit the toughest part of their schedule, playing the Steelers, Colts, Patriots, Titans then Steelers again. During the first four games, Brown was a non-factor. He was targeted 17 times, only catching six passes for 55 yards. His frustration mounted after the Ravens first loss to the Steelers, tweeting out (which has been deleted), “What’s the point of having Souljas if you ain’t gone use em?”

Brown got his revenge against the Steelers a month later, taking a boundary curl 70 yards and putting All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick on skates.

Since then, Brown has been ramping up his production. Over the Ravens final five games, Brown reached the end zone five times. He was starting to fight for yards and play in a more decisive manner for the first time in his pro career. He burned the house down on the most important play of Baltimore’s season — a fourth quarter 43-yard touchdown on fourth down to regain the lead in Cleveland. It felt like another spark to get Brown rolling. He started using his athletic gifts aggressively to provide much needed help for Lamar Jackson.

Brown became a threat again. A true, reliable threat. The Ravens have struggled to generate yards after the catch all year. On completions from Lamar Jackson, Ravens receivers have averaged 4.8 YAC/completion, which ranks 23rd in the league. Marquise Brown being able to generate YAC unlocks the Ravens offense, who have struggled to attack the perimeter in the passing game.

In the Ravens Wild Card matchup, when the lights were brightest, Brown shined yet again. The Primetime Jet took off. Brown made plays at all three levels, and provided an element as ball carrier that hasn’t been seen since his days as a Sooner.

Brown was used in orbit motion, which gave him space to operate. He forced two missed tackles on two key receptions, one late in the fourth quarter. His raw speed and change of direction provide yet another threat within the Ravens explosive offense, finally. Brown finished the day with seven receptions on nine targets for 109 yards and technically two “rushes” on backwards passes for 19 yards. The Primetime Jet, just like he did last postseason and in Cleveland, performed best when the pressure was most intense. He was a driving force behind the Ravens first postseason win since January of 2015. He showed why the Ravens made him the first receiver off the board in a prolific class. Quietly, Brown has 15 receiving touchdowns over his first two seasons, in a run first offense.

As the Ravens head to Orchard Park to take on the Buffalo Bills in the biggest game since the 2014-15 postseason, the lights will shine even brighter. The Primetime Jet has an opportunity to shine like a Hollywood star. He’s fought through adversity, naysayers, injury and doubt. The Bills will have their hands full.