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Jackson’s Arm – Not Legs – The Story in Week 1

Out to Lunch Lamar throw Jets
original photo: Joey Pulone/Baltimore Ravens
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Week 1. Win 1. That’s my main takeaway from the Ravens’ 24-9 victory over the Jets on Sunday to begin their 2022 campaign with a 1-0 record. Led by a renewed, inspired defense, Baltimore took control of the game in the third quarter and it never felt close after that. Let’s get to some highlights.

This was one of the most beautiful passes of Lamar Jackson’s career, somewhat reminiscent of his deep bomb to Hollywood Brown in Denver last year. Jackson showing off his arm strength and Bateman showing his deep threat potential was deeply satisfying in a game where the pair failed to connect on their other three targets.

Jackson didn’t run too much – no, I don’t think he’s playing it safe without a contract – but he still kept the chains moving with this third down scramble.

His arm was certainly the highlight, though, especially his connection with Devin Duvernay. The 2020 third-rounder was wide open on his second touchdown, but Jackson really threaded the needle on the duo’s first link-up.

Jackson’s quick trigger on the play despite minimal separation demonstrates the young quarterback’s improved confidence in his deep sideline throws and his developing rapport with his young receivers, especially Duvernay.

It was somewhat disappointing to once again see James Proche mostly relegated to the sideline with just five snaps on offense, the fewest among the wide receivers. I’m not sure where the disconnect is between what I see in Proche and what the Ravens do. I think he’s somewhat limited to the slot, which restricts the amount of formations he can play in, especially with Baltimore’s frequent use of heavy personnel. His hands and contested catch ability should be useful on third down and in the red zone, but there must be something keeping him off the field.

Josh Oliver earned 19 snaps with Nick Boyle and Charlie Kolar sidelined, and Kenyan Drake earned a majority of the RB snaps, two minor surprises that make sense given Baltimore’s emphasis on the run game.

On the defensive side of the ball, Patrick Queen played every snap in one of the best performances of his career. Michael Pierce erased any doubts about his conditioning by leading the defensive line and preseason darling Josh Ross didn’t get a single snap on defense. If Justin Houston can continue to be as effective on 54 snaps – not to mention a solid performance from Steven Means – I’ll be much less worried about this group of edge-rushers.

Nothing shocking, but I’ll note that Brandon Stephens played quite well at cornerback after a less-than-stellar preseason. Expect him to be the next man up with Kyle Fuller out for the foreseeable future.

Another next man up is going to be Patrick Mekari…again. The NFL’s best sixth offensive lineman closed out the game at left tackle quite effectively, and I think he’s going to do it again, and again, until/if Ronnie Stanley returns.

I wasn’t rooting for Joe Flacco early, but once the game was comfortablly in hand, I enjoyed watching a throw-back performance from my childhood quarterback.

It included a good ol’ ‘scramble for your life behind a terrible o-line’…

…a beautiful touch pass to a tight end that I couldn’t find a clip of, and, as always, an interception that, upon further viewings, was a pretty bad throw.

Ouch, a little ex-Ravens QB on ex-Ravens QB violence! Still, it was nice to see Flacco greet his former teammates and coaches after the game. I hope he gets the full regalia when he retires as a Raven.

And finally, I don’t publicly compliment the Steelers often, but they deserve some laurels after an insane win over the Bengals yesterday followed by immaculate trolling by their social media team.

We’re on to Miami!

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