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Ravens News 9/22: Breakout Wideout and more

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Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

From the Ravens’ upset to Kyler Murray’s magic, 15 developments from Week 2 that will matter - Sheil Kapadia

The Ravens are still going to be dangerous.

There’s no real blueprint to beat the Chiefs when they’re at full strength offensively. But a few things usually seem to matter:

Offensive efficiency

High-leverage plays on defense

An aggressive approach with coaching strategy

The Ravens piled up 481 yards and 31 first downs. Lamar Jackson threw for 239 yards, and Baltimore ran for 251. According to TruMedia’s Expected Points Added (EPA) per play metric, the Ravens ranked second in offensive efficiency in Week 2. They scored on five of their final six possessions (four touchdowns and a field goal). You have to be able to keep up offensively to hang with the Chiefs. The Ravens did that.

I don’t know how the rest of the Ravens’ season is going to go. But they’re an organization that has earned the benefit of the doubt in terms of identifying players to step up and finding edges with in-game decision-making. As long as Jackson is on the field and Harbaugh is on the sideline, it would be silly to count them out, regardless of what else is working against them.

NFL Power Rankings: There’s the Buccaneers, Then There’s Everyone Else - Danny Kelly

5. Baltimore Ravens (1-1)

The Ravens showed their mettle.

But, with much credit to the Ravens, no one panicked. In what felt like a microcosm for the start of this team’s season, Baltimore simply pressed on: Jackson shrugged off some early miscues to put together a signature performance, outdueling a fellow former MVP in Patrick Mahomes―emerging as the victor thanks to his wildly different but equally trilling dual-threat style. The ongoing battle between Mahomes’s Chiefs and Jackson’s Ravens is, as one astute rando in my mentions pointed out, consistently the best matchup in the NFL from both a competitive and aesthetic perspective. Mahomes is a transcendent talent without peer as a passer, a perfect tool to run Andy Reid’s wide-open spread offense; Jackson, meanwhile, is a unique talent as a runner, the irreplaceable foundation for Greg Roman’s explosive, whiplash-inducing offense.

Jackson’s always been a better passer than the narratives imply, but the one thing I kept thinking watching this game on Sunday night was that he’s also an even better runner than he gets credit for. In an offensive scheme that’s designed around his strengths, Lamar has the ability to lead this flawed, injury-decimated Ravens team to big wins.

Week 2 NFL Team of the Week: Tom Brady has entered the conversation - Cam Mellor

LT: Alejandro Villanueva, Baltimore Ravens

It was hard to miss Alejandro Villanueva on Sunday Night Football — literally. Between his massive 6’9″ frame, close-ups of his blocking, and the discussion of his jumping out of airplanes, the former Army Ranger was prominently featured on the broadcast. However you saw him, Villanueva was routinely dominating Kansas City defenders.

Making the switch to left tackle after a lowly effort at right tackle last week, Villanueva looked much more comfortable. He was dominant in pass protection and more than the Chiefs could handle on the ground.

Ravens Sign Two Offensive Tackles to Practice Squad - Clifton Brown

The Ravens signed two offensive tackles to their practice squad, David Sharpe and Jaryd Jones-Smith.

Sharpe was a Raiders fourth-round pick in 2017 out of Florida, who spent last year with Washington primarily as a backup right tackle. He started two games in 2020 but was released during this year’s final roster cuts. The 6-foot-6, 330-pound blocker has six career starts in four seasons.

Is Marquise Brown just beginning a Breakout Season? - Justin Melo

The 2020 Ravens finished last season dead last in receiving yards. They entered the 2021 campaign knowing they had to take a step forward as a passing offense, and the early returns have been encouraging.

The biggest reason why? The early-season emergence of Marquise “Hollywood” Brown deserves loads of credit.

Through two games, the former Oklahoma standout has totaled 12 catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns. Expand the numbers to a 17-game season, and Brown is on pace for 102 receptions and 1,274 receiving yards. It may be a bit early for that sort of outlook, but there’s no denying Brown has been an electric receiver through two games. Brown is currently putting in the type of performances the Ravens required in order for their passing game to take the desired step forward.

It’s early, but Brown is in the midst of an excellent campaign. His dynamic ability to get vertical and leave defensive backs in the dust has been on display for two weeks, and he’s playing with a terrific amount of confidence. If this keeps up, Btown is primed to serve as one of the league’s biggest breakout stars.

Ravens Will Have No Letdown Against Struggling Lions - Todd Karpovich

“It’s really not that challenging, believe it or not, for us on the inside, because when you watch the tape, you’re really watching it scientifically in a sense,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “There are so many things that we need to improve upon. We have 15 more games to play, and everybody is going to get better.

“We have to keep improving on all the little things. In order to win the next game, we have to get better. So, you kind of get flipped into that mode pretty quickly when you start watching the coaches tape.”

Baltimore is favored by 9.5 over the Lions, which lost to the Packers 35-17 in Week 2 and fell to 0-2 on the season.

The Ravens should be able to move the ball against the Lions’ struggling defense.