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Ravens News 9/14: Longstanding Concerns and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Las Vegas Raiders Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

NFL season, Week 1: What we learned from Raiders’ win over Ravens on Monday night - Nick Shook

Lamar Jackson is still incredibly magical, just not enough to win a wacky season opener. Despite the shift in schematic approach Monday, Jackson still compiled a stat line typical of his greatness. The dual-threat dynamo completed 19 of 30 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown, rushed 12 times for 86 yards, and helped Baltimore quickly get in position for a go-ahead Justin Tucker field goal that most believed would win the Ravens the game. His only hang-up was one that has hurt him from time to time: ball security. Jackson lost two fumbles at critical moments in the game, once while trying to do a little too much, and the other while failing to protect the ball with a rush bearing down on him. He’s incredibly dangerous, per usual — and especially when the Ravens trust him to operate their run-first attack with misdirection and burst — but he wasn’t quite able to break the hearts of his opponent as he so often has.

Ravens blow multiple leads and lose to Raiders as longstanding concerns again rise to the surface - Jeff Zrebiec

In his first game back since a season-ending ankle injury last November, left tackle Ronnie Stanley showed he still has a ways to go to get back to his pre-injury form and had his issues with Yannick Ngakoue (remember him?). Right tackle Alejandro Villanueva, signed after the team traded Orlando Brown Jr., struggled even worse, continuing a disturbing trend that was evident in training camp and the preseason. Maxx Crosby had his way with Villanueva, who looked a step slow.

Ngakoue and Crosby combined for 10 quarterback pressures of Jackson in the first half alone. For the game, Jackson was pressured on 18 of his 33 dropbacks, the Raiders’ highest pressure rate in a game since 2016, according to Next Gen Stats.

After moving Bradley Bozeman to center, signing right guard Kevin Zeitler and Villanueva and drafting Ben Cleveland in the third round, Ravens’ officials strongly believed that they had improved the offensive line. It was just one week, but the early returns weren’t good.

“If you’re a quarterback, you’re trying to go through your progressions, and guys are in your face,” Jackson said. “Sometimes, you can’t go through your reads. You’ve got to make something happen.”

Raiders vs. Ravens score, takeaways: Derek Carr, Las Vegas rally for dramatic overtime win - Benjamin & Dubin

Why the Ravens lost

It comes down to a lot of things, but chiefly, the blame lies with Lamar Jackson. Why? Because as dynamic as the QB was with his legs, leading Baltimore’s makeshift ground game with 86 yards and a handful of signature eyebrow-raising first downs, his two fumbles really afforded Vegas new life. One was more egregious than the other, with Jackson trying a bit too hard to extend a play on the move, but on a night when the Raiders never fell too far behind, ball security was a must. Jackson’s wideouts actually popped a bit, with Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins logging big plays, but he wasn’t always efficient through the air, either. On defense, Baltimore got after Derek Carr regularly but never had an answer for Waller, and Marcus Peters’ absence at corner was more obvious down the stretch, with Edwards and then Zay Jones exposing the secondary on deep catches.

The Breakdown: Five Thoughts on Loss to Raiders - John Eisenberg

Ravens Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale tried all sorts of strategies to put pressure on Derek Carr, the Raiders’ veteran quarterback. The Ravens subbed a rotation of players in and out on the edges and rolled out a variety of blitzes, packages and schemes. It’s not right to say they didn’t work at all. The defense had the upper hand early and finished with three sacks and five quarterback hits. But as the game wore on, Carr had all the time he needed to find tight end Darren Waller and other receivers and carve up the Ravens’ secondary. Baltimore’s defense actually did solid work against the run, limiting the Raiders to 82 yards on the ground and less than four yards per carry. That’s usually a recipe for success, especially in Baltimore. But when the opposing quarterback passes for 435 yards, as Carr did, that’s not a prelude to success. It was tough to watch the Ravens struggle to generate pressure when the Raiders were doing it without having to resort to blitzes and schemes. They did it the old-fashioned way, by straight-up winning one-on-one battles up front.

Ravens struggle to protect Lamar Jackson and it ultimately costs them - Jamison Hensley

Describe the game in two words: Very unusual. The Ravens lost after jumping out to a 14-point lead. How unusual is that? Ravens coach John Harbaugh was 81-0 in the regular season when holding a 14-point lead. The last time Baltimore lost a regular-season game with a 14-point lead was in 2004 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Troubling trend: More injuries. Left guard Tyre Phillips was carted off the field with 1 minute, 13 seconds remaining in the second quarter with a knee injury and didn’t return. This continues a bad trend for the Ravens, who had five players suffer season-ending injuries over a three-week period. Ben Powers replaced Phillips in the lineup.

Eye-popping NextGen stat: On Jackson’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Marquise “Hollywood” Brown in the second quarter, it looked like he was going to take off and run. Instead, Jackson showed his patience and his unbelievable quickness. He scrambled for 27 yards (the farthest on a TD pass in Jackson’s career), bought 7.84 seconds of time (NFL’s fifth longest on a TD pass in five years) and reached a speed of 15.7 mph before the throw (the fastest on a TD pass in Jackson’s career).

NFL Week 1 Game Recap: Las Vegas Raiders 33, Baltimore Ravens 27 - Michael Hull

Running back

Decimated by injury, the Ravens’ running back room performed rather well. Ty’Son Williams led the way in his first career NFL game, garnering 12 total touches for a total of 94 yards. The undrafted back split rushing duties with Latavius Murray, while Trenton Cannon was nothing more than afterthoughts. Murray did vulture a touchdown from Williams late, but he only averaged 2.8 yards per carry.

Williams silenced the new Black Hole in the first quarter with a 35-yard scamper for the opening touchdown on fourth down. The former BYU Cougar especially shined after first touch, muscling his way to 54 yards after contact.

Receivers

Death, taxes and Week 1 Sammy Watkins. The journeyman wideout saw seven targets, which he converted into four catches for 96 yards and a 69.4 receiving grade.

Marquise “Hollywood” Brown lived up to his first-round talent Monday night, hauling in six receptions for 69 yards, a touchdown and the unit’s highest-receiving grade — 72.1. Stud tight end Mark Andrews was anything but that in Vegas. He tallied just three catches for 20 yards and was used as almost a safety blanket rather than a true weapon — his .53 yards per route run ranked second-lowest among Ravens receivers with at least one catch.

Linebackers

Patrick Queen delivered the play of the night for the linebacking unit, coming as a free blitzer to wreck Carr in the backfield. Queen finished the night with eight tackles on 67 snaps and a 62.2 overall grade, while Tyus Bowser struggled in his time on the field. He had two missed tackles on his way to a poor 53.7 overall grade and 44.2 run defense grade.