With the Ravens winning their fourth straight game in a 31-25 overtime classic over Indianapolis on Monday night, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. I’m not yet sure if this team is destined for greatness or flawed and being carried to victories by extraordinary quarterback play. Maybe it doesn’t matter when you have Lamar Jackson. Those 2019 blowout wins were easier on the blood pressure, but what an exhilarating start to the season.
2. Though dunking on that preseason “figured out” chatter is tempting, I wish we’d stop giving so much oxygen to bad takes from a vocal minority and goobers on Twitter and simply enjoy watching a generational talent who’s already been a unanimous league MVP. Success is a moving target for anyone.
3. Jackson finished Week 5 leading the AFC in both yards per pass attempt and yards per carry and currently holds Pro Football Focus’ fifth-best passing grade. Some other quarterbacks are off to great starts too, but I can’t imagine anyone more valuable to his team than Jackson right now.
4. It’s fair to be concerned about the defense when the high-water mark is shutting down Denver. Wink Martindale’s unit currently ranks 22nd in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, which splits to 20th in pass defense efficiency and 19th in run defense efficiency playing the 18th-most difficult slate of opposing offenses.
5. The understated turning point may have been Frank Reich going so conservative when Indianapolis drove inside the 20 and then ran three straight times before Rodrigo Blankenship’s field goal was blocked. Why not go for the knockout with your kicker ailing and your defense not stopping Jackson at that point?
6. Speaking of that pivotal special-teams play, what a huge moment for Calais Campbell, who blocked the eighth kick of his career. Per the Ravens, that tied Craig Terrill for the third most since the 1970 NFL merger with only Shaun Rogers (14) and Julius Peppers (12) having more.
7. One poor performance doesn’t cancel out the previous four games, but Monday was a nightmare for Anthony Averett. According to PFF, he was targeted 12 times for 10 receptions, 190 yards, 10 first downs, and a touchdown. He’ll need a short memory with the Los Angeles Chargers coming to town.
8. Asked about his two touchdowns and two 2-point conversions as well as setting a new single-game record for receiving yards by a Ravens tight end, Mark Andrews got choked up revealing that his grandmother had passed away this week. What an outing to dedicate to her memory.
9. There’s no telling what might have happened had Indianapolis scored on its second drive, but Odafe Oweh registering the strip-sack again illustrated his game-changing talent. He has three sacks in five NFL games after collecting seven sacks in 20 career contests at Penn State. His potential is through the roof.
10. A brutal unnecessary roughness penalty nearly made Tavon Young the goat — the old-school variety — and wiped away a strong showing in a poor night for most of the defense. The veteran nickel gave up some plays in coverage, but he registered a sack and three total tackles for a loss.
11. How rare was Jackson’s 442-yard passing night? Vinny Testaverde owned the only other 400-yard game (429) in team history against St. Louis on Oct. 27, 1996. And despite attempting at least 43 passes 36 times for the Ravens, Joe Flacco never cracked 400 and eclipsed 375 only six times.
12. Chatter about a long-term contract has faded to the background since Week 1, but Jackson’s price tag should only be increasing with his start to 2021. Considering the early deficiencies and injuries, where would this team be with only solid-to-good quarterback play? A 2-3 start would be generous.