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What we learned from the Ravens’ 25-9 victory over the Texans

Observations from Baltimore’s Week 1 win

Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens opened the 2023 season at home with a 25-9 victory over the Houston Texans. What should have been an enjoyable Week 1 win for the Ravens was instead overshadowed by injuries to multiple key players, including running back J.K. Dobbins, free safety Marcus Williams, left tackle Ronnie Stanley, and center Tyler Linderbaum.

Other than injuries, what did we learn from Baltimore’s first game?

Maybe the preseason matters just a little bit

One of the prevailing themes of the day leaguewide was how rusty several teams looked. With many teams opting to sit most of their starting players in the preseason now, you have to assume that a worse Week 1 product is the tradeoff.

The Ravens finished Sunday’s game with 13 penalties for 106 yards and the offensive line looked like a unit that had not taken a single snap together in the preseason. Quarterback Lamar Jackson even cited being rusty after the game in his first time suiting up since Week 13 of the 2022 season.

The offense in particular was shaky on Sunday in Todd Monken’s first game as offensive coordinator. Jackson was under pressure for too much of the day behind what is presumed to be a strong offensive line. He also struggled with ball security, putting the ball on the ground twice and throwing an ill-advised interception on the offense’s second possession of the game.

If these are all just signs of rust, then you hope that the team can quickly shake it off before their meeting on the road with the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday.

Zay Flowers is going to be a major contributor

One of the major bright spots from the game was rookie first-round wide receiver Zay Flowers. The hype could not have been much higher for the Boston College playmaker ahead of Sunday’s opener and it is safe to say that he delivered. Flowers led the team with 10 targets in his first NFL game, catching nine for 78 yards. He also had two carries for nine yards.

Whether it was downfield through the air, on screen passes, or as a runner, Flowers showed that he can handle a heavy workload in this offense. The Ravens have several other players to involve on offense, including star tight end Mark Andrews when he soon returns from a quad injury. Also wide receivers Rashod Bateman and Odell Beckham Jr. as they both put their respective injuries further in the rearview mirror. So, Flowers most likely will not see this large of a workload every week, but it is clear that Monken wants to show the league what the rookie is capable of.

Odafe Oweh appears ready for the next step

One of the biggest concerns surrounding Baltimore’s roster heading into the season was the pass rush, specifically along the edge. The Ravens lost Justin Houston this offseason, the team leader in sacks a season ago, and failed to make much of a splash at outside linebacker besides signing veteran Jadeveon Clowney in August. The team instead appeared set to give their young players the chance to shine.

While it was second-year outside linebacker David Ojabo who had a strip sack on quarterback C.J. Stroud, it was his running mate Odafe Oweh who impressed the most on the day. Oweh did not record a sack himself, but he did pressure Stroud for much of the day. According to PFF’s Steve Palazzolo, Oweh was tied for the second-most pressures in the league on Sunday with seven.

Oweh was stout in all facets of the game, however, not just as a pass rusher.

This is a big year for the former first-round selection out of Penn State as Baltimore will have to make a decision on whether or not to pick up his fifth-year option this offseason. With multiple injuries to key players in the secondary, the Ravens will need Oweh to continue this level of play in order to throw quarterbacks off their game on dropbacks.