Baltimore Ravens Week One: Don’t Overreact

In their first action of the 2019 NFL season, the Baltimore Ravens absolutely manhandled their opponent. The Ravens rode quarterback Lamar Jackson‘s career-best game to a 59-10 beat down of the Miami Dolphins. With contributions all over the field from both new and old faces, it’s easy to hop on the Ravens bandwagon this early in the season. Their off-season additions were making big plays all day and showed why no one should be overlooking the Ravens in a condensed AFC North. The Baltimore Ravens Week one effort was certainly impressive

However, it is easy to overreact to one result in the NFL. Especially when that result comes during the league’s first week. The Ravens have a track record of beating up on bad teams but sometimes falling short against the NFL’s elite.¬†With Baltimore looking like a true powerhouse after scoring the most points as a team in franchise history, it is important to let things play out a bit more before jumping to conclusions about the Ravens.

Don’t Overreact To The Baltimore Ravens 59-10 Win over the Miami Dolphins

A Familiar Pattern

There were two things that seem oddly familiar about Sunday’s result. First, the Ravens destroying a team in their first game of the regular season. Second, the Ravens absolutely destroying the Dolphins.

Since 2016, in their last three meetings, the Ravens are 3-0 against the Dolphins with a combined score of 137-16. That is an outrageous margin. They have also scored more points than the previous game in each of the past two games. The Ravens also love to begin their seasons with a bang. They are 4-0 over the past four years in season openers and, similar to the way they’ve been beating the Dolphins, their margins of victory keep getting larger. This is despite them dropping 47 points on the Buffalo Bills Week one last year.

It’s great to see the Ravens stack up points in their opener but how they respond the next week is just as important. The Ravens are 2-1 in their past three seasons coming off of a week one win and have failed to move to 4-0 even once in that time period. The only time in which they started 3-0 (2017), Baltimore proceeded to drop their next four games and land at 3-4.

The Ravens Offense Worked to Perfection

There were a lot of questions about the Ravens offense coming into the season. These questions came with good reason as Jackson is perhaps the best athlete to ever play the quarterback position in the NFL, but he still showed weaknesses as a passer during his first eight games in the league in 2018.

In Jackson’s 2019 debut he threw for 324 yards and five touchdowns en route to becoming the youngest player to ever record a perfect passer rating. However, the most shocking development came from Jackson barely using his legs to achieve that success. Jackson only ran three times throughout the game for six yards. As a rookie, he averaged a whopping 17 rushing attempts per game. Now, with a new receiving corps based around his strengths, the Ravens were able to abuse the Dolphins defense on almost every play.

Under new offensive coordinator Greg Roman, the Ravens pounded the ball 46 times on the ground and when the opposing defense jumped up, Jackson struck. The Ravens used the speed of Marquise Brown to take the top off of Miami’s secondary, twice to perfection, and the receiving abilities of their three tight ends to success well. Both quarterbacks who played in the game attempted 26 throws, and only three landed incomplete.

With the way the offense executed and succeeded, it should be noted that this game plan isn’t always going to work to perfection. Jackson still has no comeback victories by more than one score and seeing how he reacts when behind will be one of the most important factors as to how the Ravens perform in 2019.

The Defense Still Has Something To Prove

Baltimore’s strong suit throughout franchise history has always been playing good defense and grinding out wins. Blowing out their opponents will hardly become a trend with a team that runs the ball as much as the Ravens do so they must call on their defense to once again to be in league’s upper echelon. With all the good things that happened on defense, there were also some key weak spots that need to be addressed.

The Secondary

The secondary of the Ravens is easily their strongest position group but they will now be without their number two corner in Jimmy Smith for a significant amount of time. And they are already without slot corner Tavon Young for the season. Due to these losses, the Ravens will be looking for another corner to step up.

Anthony Averett was the in-game solution for the loss of Smith, playing 90% of defensive snaps, and he had an up and down day. He made two notable gaffs. First, allowing DeVante Parker to snatch a 49-yard, 50/50 ball over his head, and second, tripping in the endzone, which left Preston Williams wide open for the Fins only touchdown of the day. Averett is just in his second year of NFL action but could be relied on heavily going forward with the depth chart thinning at corner.

However, the Ravens have a very deep secondary and should still have one of the top units in the NFL even without Smith and Young. Last season, Baltimore only forced 17 turnovers all season but against Miami on Sunday, they recorded three.

The Pass Rush

Baltimore’s pass rush is another group with a lot to prove this season. With third-round rookie Jaylon Ferguson scratched for Sunday’s contest, it was a familiar group of faces rushing the passer against the Dolphins. The unit recorded seven tackles for loss but only managed three sacks on 35 dropbacks by the Dolphins quarterbacks. And that was when they went up against one of the league’s worst offensive lines.

The Ravens, however, did manage to record 12 quarterback hits from seven different players. Seeing a number of Ravens get to the quarterback bodes well for defensive coordinator Don Martindale‘s scheme but they are likely still hoping for another pass rusher to step up outside of Matt Judon. Judon recorded one sack and two tackles for loss in the win. Pernell McPhee looked good in his Ravens return, posting a sack and two quarterback hits. He is currently listed as the first string pure pass rusher on defense but will likely continue to rotate with the other pass rushers. Tyus Bowser looks like the favorite to break out among the pass rushers after a solid first game. Though he only managed a single tackle, he was able to record a quarterback hit and apply decent pressure throughout the day.

If the pass rushers the Ravens have can continue to improve after their first game of the year, the unit could help force more errant throws, fumbles and help change Baltimore’s turnover margin to one more fitting of an elite defense.

Heading Forward in 2019

Despite the contents of this article nitpicking what the Ravens can do to improve moving forward, their victory by such a large margin was incredibly impressive. The Dolphins might not be Super Bowl contenders but they are still an NFL team.

It’s easy to get high after the Baltimore Ravens Week one big win but it’s important to keep a realistic view of who the Ravens are as a team. They will once again contend for the AFC North title as a very good team but they aren’t going to win their remaining 15 games by 49 points each.

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