The Ravens are returning to Baltimore sporting a 2-0 record; after beating the Bengals 27-24 in Cincinnati.
Division wins are always sweet. Road division wins are worth their weight in gold.
It’s a game the Ravens can build off of, and creates optimism going forward.
Some quick takes on what we saw:
1) I think Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken, and Defensive Coordinator Mike MacDonald both deserve some kudos for the game plans today. The Ravens began the game with a tone-setting 13 play, 75 yard, 7 minute 48 second drive. Lots of Ravens got involved immediately. There was good balance. A very productive offensive day, especially with Ronnie Stanley, and Tyler Linderbaum not being available. The Ravens defense also showed up. Clearly Joe Burrow isn’t 100%, but he was on the field, and with the Ravens missing two starters in their Secondary – they never allowed the Bengals offense to get kicked into high gear.
The Ravens have faced Joe Burrow four times over the past year. Each game, he's fared no better than a typical run-of-the-mill passer.
Week 4: -0.17 EPA per drop-back
Week 18: -0.22
Wild-card round: 0.05
— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) September 17, 2023
2) There’s finally depth in the Receiver / TE room. Beckham got hurt and had to leave (more on that below); but there were still numerous options to go. Including OBJ, and the RB Justice Hill, the Ravens had 6 different players with 3 or more receptions. Great to see Mark Andrews back, and he had his first TD of the year. Great to have a professional like Nelson Agholor available, who can step into additional snaps than maybe anticipated today, and be ready to produce (5 catches, 63 yards, TD). Great to see Zay Flowers follow up last week with another impactful game today. His 52 yard grab down the field was huge.
HOLY ZAY !!!!!!!!!!
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 17, 2023
3) OBJ getting hurt and having to leave isn’t exactly shocking. He missed all of last year. He had 14 games played in ’21, and only 7 games played in ’20. He’s turning 31. He’s going to miss games. Again, the reasonable hope is that you get production from him similar to what he put up in ’21, particularly his 8 games with the Rams. The injury today is not believed to be serious.
Harbaugh said he doesn’t believe OBJ and Oweh’s injuries are serious but he said they’ll be looked at more in days ahead
— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) September 17, 2023
4) Jadevon Clowney had some pressures in Week 1, and had a sack and multiple QB hits today. That’s encouraging.
5) Talking about encouraging, two weeks into the year, and the Ravens have had some positive showings from guys like Geno Stone, Ronald Darby, Ar’Darius Washington, Brandon Stephens, and Rock Ya-Sin in the Secondary. Getting production from that group is very significant. Stone had a big hit, and also that pick in the end zone. Ya-Sin ripped away a potential Bengals TD with physicality.
6) Kyle Hamilton and Patrick Queen had strong tackles in space today. The Ravens Defense has good team speed. It’s not a group of plodders.
7) The Ravens had 37 rushing attempts, including 12 for Jackson, 11 for Hill, and 10 for Gus Edwards. Sign me up for more of that. I love Edwards between the tackles running downhill. Last week, there were no designed runs for Jackson. I think it has to be a part of the offense. Hill only averaged 3.7 yards per carry, but his speed has to be accounted for. As mentioned, he also had 3 grabs. I think the Ravens like him in blitz pick-up.
8) The Bengals overcame their 0-2 start last year and still won the North. But one difference this year is that they’ve started their season by losing two division games.
9) Again, kudos to Monken for his offensive plan today, but also kudos to Jackson for making quicker decisions and getting rid of the ball. Jackson didn’t have some overwhelming stat line, but he controlled the game.
Lamar Jackson faced a career-low 9.1% pressure rate in Week 2, despite missing his starting center and left tackle.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 17, 2023
10) The Ravens don’t win today if Patrick Mekari and Sam Mustipher don’t step-up in place of Stanley and Linderbaum. You have to have that type of quality depth to get through a 17 game regular season.
Their numbers were called, and they stepped up. That just builds confidence up and down the roster.
11) I have a general rule where I don’t complain about the refs when the Ravens lose games. But when they win? Fair game.
NFL referees whenever they officiate a Ravens game pic.twitter.com/itwm6F6aqn
— Kevin Oestreicher (@koestreicher34) September 10, 2023
On To Next Week
The undefeated Ravens return to Baltimore to host the 1-1 Indianapolis Colts. For the second time in the opening three weeks, the Ravens could potentially face a Rookie QB (Anthony Richardson).
It’s potential, because Richardson was knocked out of today’s 31-20 win vs. the Texans with a concussion.
If Richardson is able to play, the Ravens will have to account for him on the ground. Richardson already has 3 rushing TD’s in the first two weeks of his career.
If Richardson is not available, the Colts will start veteran Gardner Minshew, who was 19 of 23 passing today.
Colts RB Jonathan Taylor is on the PUP list, and will miss this game, as he is not eligible to return to action before Week 5.
With Taylor not available, Zack Moss had 18 carries for 88 yards (4.9 ypc) today.
ESPN’s Match-up Predictor gives the Ravens a 76.2% chance of winning.
Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, CBS 1300, Q1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. He has also been interviewed by The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Business Journal, and PressBox (TV). As Owner, his responsibilities include serving as the Managing Editor, Publicist, & Sales Director.