Over the past several months, we here at Late for Work have written about the Ravens being overlooked by national pundits.
If it wasnt the Cleveland Browns getting all the love from the media (and oddsmakers), it was the Pittsburgh Steelers. There were some, however, who declared the AFC North was still the defending champion Ravens division to lose.
In fact, those were the exact words used by NFL Networks Rich Eisen on The Rich Eisen Show back in July. So when he was asked during the Overreaction Monday segment of his show yesterday if Lamar Jackson and the Ravens were for real following their 59-10 rout of the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Eisen couldnt resist the opportunity to say, I told you so.
I said July 19 its their division to lose. I said July 19 Im over and sick and tired of people saying Lamar Jackson isnt a real quarterback or they wont be able to win with him because he cant throw, Eisen said. They are for real, coming at you.
"Dallas is a legit Super Bowl contender!" [email protected] jumped right into #OverreactionMonday feat. #dallascowboys #RavensFlock and #TakeFlight pic.twitter.com/UVP6eXk2Ct
When Eisens co-host, Chris Brockman, referred to the Dolphins as an FCS opponent, Eisen adamantly refused to put an asterisk on the Ravens season-opening victory.
The whole idea that it was just the Dolphins — you still have to execute, you still have to make the plays, Eisen said. When the receivers have a step on somebody or two, you still have to hit them. When the defensive line youre going at is tired, you still have to execute on the offensive line and not make the mistakes, you still need to hit the hole if youre running backs, you still need to make your blocks if youre up front. And the Ravens did it.
You still have to take an opponent when theyre down and kick them when theyre down, he said. You still have to come up with the first-ever 40-burger in a first half in Week 1 history. You still have to go for it with your backup quarterback on fourth down like they did with [Robert Griffin III] because hes got to get ready if Lamar goes down. You still have to be that coach who makes the other coach go, Whats your deal, bro? and thats the Harbaugh family.
The acclaim for Jackson after his spectacular Week 1 performance has been as unrelenting as the Ravens offense was on Sunday. Add NFL Networks Deion Sanders and NFL.coms Gregg Rosenthal and Adam Schein to the lengthy list of analysts and media members who were impressed.
Sanders went as far as to say Jackson will be the best of the five quarterbacks selected in the first round of the NFL Draft last year. Jackson was the final overall pick of the first round. The quarterbacks selected before him were Baker Mayfield (No. 1 overall by Browns, Sam Darnold (No. 3, New York Jets,), Josh Allen (No. 7, Buffalo Bills) and Josh Rosen (No. 10, Arizona Cardinals).
He has an offense thats built particularly for him, Sanders said on NFL Gameday Prime. Hes very versatile in that offense. He was reluctant to run the football [Sunday] because he was so prominent with the passing. Their defense can really play at a high level. Therefore, hes going to get ample amount of opportunities, unlike some of the others that have lackluster defenses.
Will @Lj_era8 be the best QB from his 2018 draft [email protected] says yes, and explains how he went to work to land this title 👇📺: @NFLGameDay Prime pic.twitter.com/ntKlsjXEII
This guy really went home, got in the lab and studied himself and his insufficiencies, and he went to work, Sanders said. He was talking about the width of his base, he was talking about his throwing motion. This guy went to work to correct all his mistakes and his mishaps from a year ago, and you see it paid dividends.
After witnessing Jacksons scary good effort in Miami, Schein wrote that he is going to have a monster second season.
Video: Every Teams Best Play of Week 1! | NFL Highlights
Jackson was breathtaking in Baltimores 59-10 shellacking of the Dolphins, and its a harbinger of things to come, Schein wrote. Yes, Miami is in the midst of a rebuild, smartly thinking about 2020 and 2021. But dont spin Jacksons opening statement any other way.
Even Jacksons biggest fans couldnt have expected an opening performance like Sundays effort against Miami, Rosenthal wrote. The Ravens ridiculous running game forced the Dolphins to drop a safety near the line of scrimmage, and Jackson exposed that strategy with some beautiful deep passes over the top of the defense. Yes, it was against the Dolphins. But Jackson was extremely accurate on short, intermediate and — most importantly — vertical throws.
The second-year quarterbacks 83-yarder to Marquise Brown, 39-yarder to Mark Andrews and 33-yarder to Willie Snead were all precision throws dropped into a bucket that would have been impressive in 7-on-7 drills, much less during an NFL game. Jackson had more passing touchdowns (5) than incompletions (3) or rushing attempts (3), a trend that cant continue but which points to the ceiling of one of the sports most fascinating players.
While Jackson deservedly got most of the headlines coming out of Sundays game, Rosenthal wrote that the Ravens running game also was in fine form.
It should not be lost amid the Jackson fire-show that Baltimores first three runs went for 49, 11 and 13 yards before Miami managed to limit the Ravens to single digits in rushing yards on a play (4 yards on a direct snap to Mark Ingram), Rosenthal wrote. Baltimores running game is a lot to handle. The Ravens finished last season running with historic success on the ground, and it might take the league a few more minutes to catch up. Their 643 total yards on Sunday were the sixth-most in a game in the Super Bowl era.
It didnt take long for rookie wide receiver Hollywood Brown to flash his star potential. Despite Brown missing OTAs after undergoing foot surgery and not practicing this past Friday, the Jackson-Brown combination definitely wasnt running on empty in Miami.
Browns first two catches went for touchdowns of 47 and 83 yards, with Brown becoming just the third player in NFL history to score touchdowns on his first two catches.
Penn Lives Aaron Kasinitz wrote that Browns debut (four catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns) raises the question of just how good the 25th overall pick out of Oklahoma can be.
Advanced statistics suggest that Browns 147 yards — the most by a receiver in his debut in 16 years, according to ESPN — were no fluke, Kasinitz wrote. Brown gained an average of 11.3 yards after each catch more than metrics say an average player would have gained, according to the NFLs NextGen Stats. That was the best mark of any receiver in Week 1.
Brown hauled in receptions on four of his five targets (80 percent), a rate which ranked in the top half of the league, and NextGen Stats show his targets averaged 18.4 air yards, the seventh-most in the NFL on Sunday. Translation: Brown was making impressive plays deep downfield.
147 yards on 12 SNAPS 🤯That's the most receiving yards by any player to have played at most 12 offensive snaps since 2007. pic.twitter.com/ZbBfyccaWQ
The fact that Browns big day came against an overmatched opponent should not minimize his stunning performance, Kasinitz wrote.
Browns success carried weight for a variety of reasons. [Minkah] Fitzpatrick is a former first-round pick, after all, and Brown had no trouble recognizing that he could burn the Dolphins DB and then doing so in a flash. … Not every team is as unimposing as Miami. But not every receiver can blow past Minkah Fitzpatrick.
On that play, which went for an 83-yard touchdown, NFL Networks Daniel Jeremiah likened the Dolphins defender trying to chase down Brown in the open field as a boat race, and that is a speed boat against a canoe.
"It is a boat race, and that is a speed boat against a canoe." 🚤@MoveTheSticks loves what he saw from @Primetime_jet in his NFL debut 👇📺: The Aftermath pic.twitter.com/vWVRPvFrPK
The reigning champs start the season on top of our Week 1 NFL Power Rankings. pic.twitter.com/OqatpEqyyC