With the Ravens improving to 3-1 and 2-0 in the AFC North after a 28-3 blowout win at Cleveland on Sunday afternoon, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Saying the Ravens were going to Cleveland to try to “beat their tails in front of their wife and kids,” Roquan Smith would have fit right in with Baltimore’s brash defensive stars of yesteryear. Most importantly, he backs up such talk as the leader of this formidable defense.
2. In 23 snaps, Kyle Van Noy batted down a pass and registered a quarterback hit while Pro Football Focus credited him for four total pressures on Browns rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson. That’s a credit to his conditioning and football intelligence for playing that well after only a few days of practice.
3. How many times has Lamar Jackson made an impossible throw to Mark Andrews that you’re convinced will be intercepted before it lands in the hands of the three-time Pro Bowl tight end? According to Next Gen Stats, their second-quarter touchdown had a completion probability of 17.1%. What chemistry they have.
4. The Ravens confirmed Brandon Stephens will remain at cornerback after Marlon Humphrey returns to game action, which should be much sooner than later at this point. Stephens logged his first career interception Sunday and has played every defensive snap this season. His step forward has been a critical one.
5. Cleveland feeling confident to trade veteran Joshua Dobbs to Arizona because of Thompson-Robinson’s summer performance is the latest example of a team being fooled by the preseason. Expecting a fifth-round rookie to handle primary backup responsibilities is quite a choice for a team eyeing playoff contention.
6. For extended stretches, the Cleveland defense was as good as advertised with Baltimore managing only 27 yards in the first quarter and 47 yards in the second half. But the Browns wilted in the second period, lacking the resiliency to overcome the offense’s ineptitude. Shaking a losing culture is tough.
7. Limited to seven snaps returning from a toe injury, Justice Hill gained 33 yards on three carries and had a 55-yard reception on a screen pass called back for holding in the second quarter. If he can stay healthy, Hill remains the top home-run hitter Baltimore has at running back.
8. Injuries forced Mike Macdonald to shuffle the nickel position as Daryl Worley hurt his shoulder, which returned Kyle Hamilton to safety and pressed Arthur Maulet into action. Maulet played well before being evaluated for a concussion, which brought Kevon Seymour into the game. Just talking about the injuries is exhausting.
9. Baltimore is tied for third in the NFL in fewest points allowed through Week 4 with 15 of those 58 points surrendered coming on field goals of 53 yards or longer. Even when opponents are moving the ball, the Ravens aren’t making it easy.
10. That I was actually surprised to learn Sunday was the first time Jackson had thrown two touchdowns and rushed for two in the same game speaks to how incredibly unique and dynamic his talents are. Jackson threw some gorgeous passes on Sunday.
11. Congratulations to John Harbaugh for earning his 150th career win in the regular season, which moved him into sole possession of 24th place on the all-time list for NFL head coaches. That kind of longevity is increasingly rare in major professional team sports.
12. The number of big names suffering serious injuries in Week 4 reminds how brutal football is and offers perspective on the high volume of injuries — most short-to-medium term fortunately — Baltimore has sustained over the season’s first month. The injury rate is eventually 100% for everyone — even those who push through.