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Baltimore Ravens: 5 Thoughts Following the Win over the Patriots

Vinny & Haynie
November 05, 2019 - 10:57 am
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By Joe Schiller

1. Lamar Jackson Has Cemented Himself as an MVP Candidate 

He garnered hype at the beginning of the season with breakout performances against the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals, but was discredited because of the lack of quality of the opponents. After the performance Lamar Jackson had against the New England Patriots on Sunday night, he's cemented himself into the MVP conversation. 

Jackson finished 17-of-23 for 163 yards and a touchdown through the air, adding 61 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

Looking strictly at Jackson's passing numbers is nieve in this case. You can't compare him to the Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Patrick Mahomes of the world in that regard. Jackson isn't going to be a consistent 300-yard passer each game, but he provides a different dynamic that no other NFL quarterback has right now. If you watched the game, you saw the touch pass Jackson made to Mark Andrews and the clutch 4th down throw converted to Willie Snead. 

Take away Jackson from the Ravens and this is a completely different team. The success of the Ravens runs through No. 8 and he deserves legitimate MVP buzz because of it. 

2. Marlon Humphrey is Having an All-Pro Year 

Is it me, or is Marlon Humphrey always at the right time? He was there to scoop up and return Patrick Onwuasor's forced fumble 70 yards against the Patriots, one of many highlights Humphrey has had this season. Through eight games he's totaled two interceptions, two forced fumbles, two touchdowns, and seven passes defensed. 

Humphrey has been consistently matched up against opponent's No. 1 wide receivers, and is having an All-Pro year in the process. He's been a consistent force among the Ravens' greatest defensive strength. He looks like a linebacker playing cornerback with the physical presence he brings. There's no doubt Humphrey is the team's top cornerback and one they'll want to keep around for the long-term. 

3. Long Drives are the Best Drives 

I talked about it in my game recap, but the Ravens' greatest offensive strength is the ability to sustain long drives. Baltimore had two 14-play drives of over eight and nine minutes, keeping the ball out of Tom Brady's hands for a quarter's worth of time. That's significant and a reason why the Ravens are 12-3 since Jackson took over as the starting quarterback. 

The Ravens came into Week 9 leading the NFL in average time of possession (excluding OT). It's a winning formula, and if you can't stop a team averaging over 200 rushing yards per game this season, then good luck.

4. Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown is the Offense's Most Important Player the Rest of the Season

Notice how I didn't say valuable, because that belongs to Jackson, but Brown is the most important offensive player for the Ravens the rest of the season. Brown returned after missing two straight games with an ankle injury and made an instant impact as a runner and a receiver. His speed is unmatched against most defenders and his ability to stretch opposing defenses is key.

Brown can open up the deep passing game for Jackson, something that's been missing in his absence. As he continues to work his way back into a consistent role in the offense, look for Brown to be utilized in a number of ways. 

5. Cyrus Jones Could Be Replaced at Punt Returner 

Harbaugh told reporters on Monday that he doesn't feel special teams have been consistent. Cyrus Jones made the biggest blemish when he muffed a punt that led to a Patriots' touchdown and shifted the entire momentum of the game. For a team with a former special teams coordinator as head coach, there are few rooms for errors in that department and Jones' job as the punt returner could be expendable. 

Harbaugh reiterated the Ravens are confident in Jones, but the team has reportedly worked out returners in recent weeks like former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver DeAnthony Thomas. Like any special teams position, there's one primary job. And fumbling as a returner is the quickest way to be replaced.