A 275 yard, three-touchdown afternoon for Lamar Jackson is hardly news and might not merit an NFL Recap all to itself. It’s just a typical autumn Sunday afternoon for the reigning MVP. The fact that Jackson did much of his damage from the pocket also isn’t headline-worthy. If you think he’s just a scrambler who makes things up as he’s going along, you didn’t pay much attention last year. But this NFL Recap does have some big news to report from the Baltimore Ravens’ mostly-easy 38-6 victory over the Cleveland Browns. Jackson finally has a go-to wide receiver by the name of Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. And Brown (with some help from Miles Boykin, J.K. Dobbins, and others) could be the missing piece in the Ravens’ Super Bowl puzzle.
Week 1 NFL Recap of the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns
The Ravens took an early 10-0 lead on a pair of Cleveland turnovers, one of them a fumble on a goofy fake punt run by Jamie “the Scottish Hammer” Gillan. But the Browns kept things close for a while with some big runs by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to set up a David Njoku touchdown, some unforced errors by the Ravens (including a fumble in the red zone by fullback Patrick Ricard), and some disciplined play by their defensive front, which limited Jackson on designed runs and kept him contained on passing plays.
That’s when Jackson settled into the pocket and began picking the Browns apart. Wide receivers Brown, Boykin, and Snead combined for four catches and 66 yards during a 99-yard drive that was capped by a touchdown from rookie running back Dobbins.
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Brown caught two more passes for 29 yards in the final 41 seconds of the first half to set up tight end Mark Andrews’ second touchdown of the game. A Snead touchdown catch on a gorgeous Jackson touch pass turned the game into a laugher in the third quarter; Dobbins’ second touchdown run turned it into a snore in the fourth.
Brown finished with five catches for 101 yards. Snead and Boykin combined for seven receptions for 103 yards.
What’s next for the Ravens offense?
The Ravens expected big things from the 170-pound Brown when they selected him 25th overall in the 2019 Draft. But foot injuries limited him throughout minicamp and training camp last year, then lingered into the regular season.
Boykin, a third-round pick in 2019, had a great rookie camp but appeared to have trouble ramping up to NFL speed once the season began. Neither rookie came close to unlocking their full potential. Nonetheless, Jackson won the 2019 MVP award and led the Ravens to a 14-2 record with a passing game that consisted mostly of Andrews and other tight ends catching play-action passes while Brown ran decoy routes, Snead worked the short middle of the field, and Boykin stalk-blocked.
Brown, now healthy after January foot surgery, is both a deep threat (as demonstrated by his 47-yard catch before the Ricard fumble) and a dangerous catch-and-run threat on shorter routes. Boykin has the tools to be a quality possession receiver. Snead is your standard veteran slot guy.
Add Andrews, Dobbins, Mark Ingram, and all the other backs and tight ends, and Jackson has a traditional set of weapons to help him become a traditional precision pocket passer whenever the defense denies him the opportunity to be a breathtaking, league-redefining superweapon.
In other words, the Ravens offense now has a new dimension, making it some sort of five-dimensional hypercube.
What’s next for Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens?
Jackson and company visit the Houston Texans in Week 2 and host the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3. The Ravens need to be firing on all cylinders in a pair of games which will have major playoff implications. Fortunately, Brown and the others are now ready to further turbocharge their offense.