Give yourself a pat on the back, you’re nearly done chugging through the week. Today, we’ll reward you with some Ravens news that both looks back at the triumph over KC, and looks forward to this Sunday’s bout with the Detroit Lions.
Kicking things off with one of the plays that was the talk of the town on Monday morning, it appears Lamar Jackson’s iconic flip into the end zone wasn’t altogether positive. In an interview on Wednesday, the electrifying quarterback did admit to be somewhat sore after falling on his backside. Said Jackson, “I didn’t want to tell Coach [John Harbaugh] because Coach would probably [have] said something about flipping next time.”
While this may be true, I can’t imagine Harbaugh has too many qualms. After an up-and-down game, Jackson had officially taken over and given Baltimore the lead. Surely that deserves some flips; I know had I been capable I’d have done some, myself.
Needless to say, Jackson’s soreness should not hamper him for his next ballgame in Detroit against the Lions.
Before we move onto that, however, the UK Ravens Twitter account noticed a last-minute nugget Harbaugh threw into Baltimore’s win. As the team lined up for the final kneel-down of the game, WR Sammy Watkins was directly behind Jackson. The Ravens ensured that he’d be on the field in victory formation against his former team.
Missed this in all the excitement ????
Ravens last snap (kneel down)
— UK Ravens (@UKRavens) September 22, 2021
Watkins leaving KC may not have been as high-profile of a move as others, but listening to him on Ravens wired this week, it’s clear how much the game meant to him. He’s a sturdy leader for this team, no doubt, but there had to have been some extra emotion against the Chiefs Sunday night.
Harbaugh made sure that was recognized, and Watkins certainly would have appreciated that.
Following the win, the Ravens sit at 1-1, which makes fans feel much better about their chances for the playoffs moving forward. Beating Kansas City was an incredible result for the team, but that doesn’t change the dire situation they’re facing with injuries. Spotrac highlights this by noting that the Ravens have the 3rd most amount of their salary cap currently on IR in the NFL, behind only the Cowboys and Jets.
Most 2021 Cap $ on the Injured Reserve
— Spotrac (@spotrac) September 22, 2021
Some of these players, like TE Nick Boyle, will be taken off that list in due time, but others, such as CB Marcus Peters, will not. No matter how you slice it, Baltimore will be hampered by injury throughout the 2021 campaign.
That may not be enough to stop this Ravens offense, though. In a tweet on Wednesday evening, Kevin Oestreicher highlights just how potent the unit has been thus far. Not to toot my own horn, but I did say this would be the best offense in team history. Maybe I’m on to something:
Stats for the Ravens’ offense through two games of the 2021 season:
– 1st in rushing yards (440)
– 1st in yards per carry (5.9)
– 3rd in total yards (887)
– 4th in points per game (31.5)
– 4th in points scored (63)
– 5th in points per drive (2.71)
– 6th in yards per play (6.6)
— Kevin Oestreicher (@koestreicher34) September 22, 2021
The number that really jumped out to me here was not in regards to rushing, points, or even total yards, but rather in regards to points per drive. In years past, Baltimore’s offense has done a great deal of its damage on a short field. The rushing attack had occasionally been quick strike, but they did struggle with stringing together longer drives when forced to pass.
This year, the Ravens have forced 3 turnovers, two of which made little difference on field position. The other – Tavon Young’s interception of Patrick Mahomes – occurred at the 44 yard line, which isn’t an especially short field. Essentially, this means that Baltimore’s attack has not only been efficient and high scoring, but has been consistent.
To try stopping this, Detroit will rely on both its safeties and its own offense. Rookie Head Coach Dan Campbell understands how critical stopping Jackson and company will be if they stand a chance, so he’ll be looking for big games out of starters Tracy Walker and Will Harris:
The Lions defense hasn’t fared well so far, allowing 41 points to the 49ers followed by 35 to the Packers. If they execute, it’s quite possible the Ravens find themselves putting up 5-6 scores of their own on Sunday.
To keep up, Detroit will need to manage the clock and play the game at their own pace. The fact that they’re likely to be without WR Tyrell Williams will make the task even more difficult.
Williams took a hit to the head against San Francisco in Week 1, and he remains in concussion protocol. Given that, WR Quintez Cephus and TE TJ Hockenson will be integral to the passing attack, while RBs DeAndre Swift and Jamaal Williams will surely see heavy work.
The Ravens have been great against the run early in the season, but they have struggled mightily against Tight Ends. Sure, Darren Waller and Travis Kelce are the best of the best, but Hockenson is working his way into that category, too. Through two games, he has 16 receptions for 163 yards and 2 TDs.
Will Baltimore be able to shut him down the same way they did Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill, or will Hockenson run rampant and keep Detroit in striking distance? If the Ravens want to escape the Lions’ den without a scare, they’ll have to hope it’s the former.