By Chris Schisler
The Las Vegas Raiders are a tougher opponent than we thought they were in week 1:
When the Baltimore Ravens lost to the Las Vegas Raiders it was an annoyance. Here was a game that most pundits had chalked up as a win when the schedule came out. It wasn’t until all the injuries mounted up that the idea of the Raiders winning the opening game caught on. To be honest much of that was an overreaction to the Baltimore Ravens injuries. It was so quickly fired off bad news that it seemed like the Ravens were limping into the season.
The Raiders are a really good football team. After week 1, the Raiders had to follow up on their performance. The Ravens had excuses and the Raiders were slightly above average last season. The Raiders went into Pittsburgh and straight-up handled the Steelers. Derek Carr sliced up a very good Pittsburgh defense for another 382 yards and two touchdowns. Four different Raiders caught five passes. The defensive front dominated Pittsburgh. Solomon Thomas had two sacks and the Raiders got an interception off Big Ben.
The Raiders are now 2-0. They look like one of the best teams in the AFC and the shame of losing to them has gone away. Did the Ravens have issues on that Monday Night Football appearance? Absolutely. One of them though was that just about everybody underestimated Jon Gruden, Derek Carr, and the Raiders.
The Baltimore Ravens offensive line may not be a dumpster fire:
Now John Harbaugh gave everyone a game ball because he saw it as a total team win. A lot of players stepped up to beat the Chiefs in the most shocking fashion imaginable. The entire offensive line played an entirely improved game against the Chiefs. Alejandro Villanueva looked shockingly smooth at the left tackle position. The Ravens saw their line move people off the ball. The offense didn’t miss a beat without Ronnie Stanley. That’s something I never imagined saying.
The Ravens introduced a rotation at left guard that got Ben Cleveland involved. It’s different, but it works. Lamar Jackson and three other ball carriers averaged over four yards per rushing attempt. Jackson had some pressure to deal with and was sacked once, but the offensive line gave him the shot he needed to finally beat the Chiefs. The effort of the offensive line was off the charts and it kept the Ravens on schedule in a game they couldn’t go too long without scoring.
Lamar Jackson’s mental toughness came through and he can beat anybody:
Lamar Jackson’s first pass was a pick-six. Now, it wasn’t his fault-Sammy Watkins slipped-but it was a disaster start. Jackson took the Ravens right back out there and he got them in the end zone. When he had a boneheaded interception into triple coverage he didn’t panic. He reeled himself back in and played one of the best games of his life. Jackson just didn’t let anything derail him. His mental toughness won this game.
There couldn’t be a better stage for a player that is criticized for “Not being able to beat the Chiefs” and “Not being able to make a comeback.” This was the stage of Jackson’s dreams. The opportunity was there to crush and erase all the false narratives about him as a quarterback. Jackson went 18-26 passing for 236 yards. He ran for 107 yards. When the Ravens needed one more first down to seal the game, he knew he was going to get it. Jackson is the real deal.
P.S. Anybody who still says he can’t throw didn’t see that pop pass down the field to Lamar Jackson. I’m not sure Patrick Mahomes can even do that and Mahomes is also a generational talent. Put every narrative about Jackson on the bench, except for the one that says he’s the MVP.
Odafe Oweh looks like the real deal:
It has recently been announced that Odafe Oweh is the Defensive Player of the Week for the AFC. Oweh forced the all-important fumble of Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He hit Patrick Mahomes as he threw an interception to Tavon Young. The Ravens couldn’t have won this game without Oweh. He looks like a first-round pick on the field. This is great news for the Ravens. He’s explosive and he’s getting involved in a big way early.
Despite stepping up when it mattered, the Baltimore defense has concerns
The defense deserves credit for shutting the Chiefs out in the fourth quarter. Don Martindale deserves credit for not throwing a fit as Mahomes made the first three quarters look too easy. The defense has to get some praise. It still has to come with a dose of tough love. The Ravens have issues on defense. They seem incapable of covering tight ends.
They have given up a ton of passing yards in two weeks and open-field tackling has not been a strong suit. The Ravens haven’t had Jimmy Smith or Derek Wolfe and they’ve lost Marcus Peters for the season. That’s not the only source of their problems though. The Ravens get a passing grade for an amazing fourth-quarter comeback. They just need to make progress moving forward. The defense can be improved and it must be done as soon as possible.
NEXT POST: Ravens shock Chiefs: Good, bad and ugly
The Baltimore Ravens got themselves a huge win. These are the top five lessons to take out of the second week of the NFL season.