The Raiders went in to Baltimore today and played hard, although the game got away from them in the end. They’re not good enough to close out a game against a good team, but they don’t have the look of a team that’s given up or who aren’t playing with effort. There was plenty of good and plenty of bad today.
1) Lamar Jackson
There were plenty of people who questioned whether Jackson, a Heisman-winning quarterback at Louisville, could transition to playing quarterback in the NFL. After two weeks of starting, Jackson is 2-0, and while he has some work to do as a passer I don’t see any reason that he can’t be an effective starting quarterback. Jackson’s running ability is deadly, particularly combined with another effective rusher in the same backfield. Jackson’s ability to run the zone read is elite, and he will gash teams over and over again much like Robert Griffin III did when he burst onto the scene. Only a major injury like RGIII suffered can stop him, because with a running game that effective, Jackson can’t be focused on easily.
Today, Jackson took his lumps as a passer, going 14/25 for 178 yards, a touchdown and two picks. But he made hay on the ground when Baltimore abandoned the pass, rushing 11 times for 71 yards and a score. I’m not gonna say Joe Flacco’s time is done, but this is the most exciting Ravens team we’ve seen in years.
2) Raiders secondary
One of the reasons Jackson had so much trouble passing was because the Raiders secondary played pretty darn well. There were plenty of times Jackson rolled out to his right, and found nobody open. On two occasions, he threw passes that were tipped and then picked. Gareon Conley tipped a pass to Marcus Gilchrist at the end of the first half that was just a spectacular effort. Karl Joseph had eight tackles and was trucking people, but many of his tackles came after the ball carrier had made a first down because of how poorly the defensive line played.
3) Gus Edwards
I must admit, I had no idea who Gus Edwards was coming into this game. Now, I do. He’s a rookie from Rutgers, who are the worst team in FBS football. Losing Edwards to graduation probably didn’t help. He’s a hard-nosed runner who is difficult to bring down, and he’s faster than you might think. He rushed for 118 yards on 23 carries and was an absolute workhorse for Baltimore, who always seem to have these hard-nosed rushers on their team who can pick up tough yards and run through contact.
4) Ravens offensive line
It’s hard to imagine a more dominant performance by a positional group than what we saw from the Ravens’ o-line today. The Ravens were able to rush for 242 yards as a team and the Raiders’ defensive line was pushed off the ball on nearly every play. Quite the effort from these guys.
1) Derek Carr
Carr didn’t throw an interception today, but he also completed less than half his passes, going 16/34 for 194 yards and a touchdown. That score was a bad throw from Carr but a spectacular catch by TE Jared Cook, who caught the ball one-handed while falling backwards onto his bum.
Carr wasn’t sharp today, and he continually led his receivers too far on deep passes. Had he completed a few of those, this might have been a different game. But in general, he just wasn’t good enough.
2) Raider defensive line
The Raiders were completely dominated by the Ravens in the trenches, and were totally unable to stop the run. They didn’t get any pressure on the quarterback either, because the only sack was from LB Nicholas Morrow. Just an all-around abysmal performance from this group.
3) Raiders special teams
It appears Johnny Townsend has turned back into a pumpkin. He fired off six punts today and none of them were particularly good, plus he didn’t even have any big fake punt runs to redeem himself. Also, and this isn’t Townsend’s fault, the punt and kick return coverage teams were very bad today, allowing a punt return touchdown that was the only touchdown the Ravens scored in the first half.
4) The Cincinnati Bengals
It’s not often you’ll see an NFL team which has completely given up and is resigned to their fate, unwilling to put forth effort for their team, their fellow players or their coaches. But that’s what we have in Cincy, as the Bengals are an absolute atrocity right now and might be worse than the Raiders.
The Browns beat them today 35-20, and that score belies how much of an ass-whooping the Browns laid on them because the Bengals scored two garbage time touchdowns. Baker Mayfield was a golden god, throwing for 258 yards and four touchdowns. Cleveland is trending up, while the Bengals are picking up the pieces and planning a trade for Carson Palmer. We can feel good because our boys played hard in defeat and we have the draft capital to improve. I don’t know what you can feel good about today as a Cincy fan.