NFL

Lamar Jackson in unenviable spot ahead of Ravens' primetime showdown with Chiefs

By Sports Desk September 18, 2021

After letting a Week 1 victory slip through their fingers in an overtime thriller with the Las Vegas Raiders, the Baltimore Ravens head into their second game perhaps feeling a sense of jeopardy about the direction of their season.

The Ravens have been beset by injuries on both sides of the ball and, following their 33-27 defeat to the Raiders, have the unenviable task of trying to get back to 1-1 by defeating Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

It is a challenge that has consistently been beyond Baltimore in recent years. The Ravens have lost their last four meetings with the Chiefs and can hardly consider themselves to be in an advantageous situation going into Sunday's primetime clash.

The Ravens lost each of their top three running backs to injury before the start of the season, with J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill all on the shelf. A torn ACL robbed Baltimore of cornerback Marcus Peters for the entire season, while wide receivers Rashod Bateman and Miles Boykin are on injured reserve and out until at least Week 4.

As if that was not enough, they will be without left tackle Ronnie Stanley on Sunday, forcing Alejandro Villanueva to switch position and take his place with interior lineman Patrick Mekari filling in at right tackle.

The Chiefs defense is far from the most fearsome in the NFL and managed only 12 pressures in Kansas City's opening win over the Cleveland Browns.

However, being shorn of skill position talent and playing behind a makeshift offensive line is a long way from ideal for quarterback Lamar Jackson as he attempts to outduel Mahomes.

With their successive MVP seasons in 2018 and 2019 respectively, Mahomes and Jackson have led the new generation of dual-threat quarterbacks taking over the NFL but performed at opposite ends of the spectrum in Week 1.

According to Stats Perform data, Mahomes added 2.81 yards per attempt in expected passing situations against the Browns, third in the NFL. Jackson was 21st with minus 0.87 yards per attempt versus the Raiders.

Mahomes delivered an accurate, well-thrown ball on 82.4 per cent of his attempts, compared to 69% for Jackson.

When pressured by the Browns, Mahomes' well-thrown percentage dipped to 66.7 but with an air yards per attempt average of 18.6. By contrast, Jackson was at 63.6 while averaging 5.3 air yards.

Though not particularly accurate under pressure, Mahomes still found a way to test the Browns deep, which should be a cause for concern for the Ravens' secondary given Peters' absence and injuries to Marlon Humphrey and Jimmy Smith, who are both questionable for the game.

Jackson was not able to do the same in defeat to the Raiders and now must somehow find a way to keep up with Mahomes despite a complete lack of continuity on offense.

With the advent of the 17-game season, going 0-2 is not the death knell it once was. The Ravens have a little extra wiggle room than they did in the 16-game era but, realistically, if they want to compete in the AFC, Jackson will need to overcome statistical evidence and the recent history of this matchup and get Baltimore off the mark against the odds.

Related items

  • Browns reach agreement with Njoku on four-year extension Browns reach agreement with Njoku on four-year extension

    The Cleveland Browns have reached an agreement with tight end David Njoku on a four-year contract extension.

    Cleveland placed the franchise tag on Njoku in March and have now come to terms with a player they hope will be pivotal to their offensive success.

    According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, the Browns and Njoku have agreed a deal in principle worth $56.75million.

    He will receive $28million guaranteed, according to the report, with an average annual salary of $14.18million making him the fifth-highest paid tight end in the league.

    The Browns are betting on Njoku's upside, with the 2017 first-round pick yet to live up to expectations since Cleveland took him with the 29th overall selection five years ago.

    His best season in terms of receiving yards came back in 2018 when he finished with 56 catches for 639 yards, but Njoku has since struggled with injuries.

    He played in only four games in 2019 and 13 in 2020 as the Browns reached the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

    Njoku started 11 of his 16 games in 2021 and finished with 475 yards and four touchdowns in a campaign that saw a disappointing Browns team fail to qualify for the postseason, though his average of 13.2 yards per reception ranked fourth among all qualifying tight ends.

  • 'Find something else to talk about' - Lamar Jackson dismisses OTAs criticism 'Find something else to talk about' - Lamar Jackson dismisses OTAs criticism

    Lamar Jackson hit back at criticism of his absence from Baltimore Ravens' OTAs as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.

    The 2019 NFL MVP has shown no willingness to engage in discussions with the Ravens over a contract extension.

    He has insisted he has no desire to part company with Baltimore, but Jackson has not been present as the Ravens have started early on-field preparations for the 2022 campaign with the OTAs – organised team activities.

    Jackson was criticised by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms, who referenced previous comments from the Ravens star, who previously said he wanted to be the Tom Brady of his era.

    Simms said on PFT Live: "Brady wouldn't be missing OTAs in year four of his career. ... Brady didn't miss an OTA until he had played in four Super Bowls."

    Responding to those comments quoting a tweet featuring a clip of Simms' remarks, Jackson wrote: "Lamar wants to be Lamar Chris.

    "This part of OTAs is voluntary my guy I will be there, just not on your watch. It's probably other QBs not attending voluntary OTAs either but since it's Lamar it's a huge deal. Find something else to talk about."

    Simms responded, saying: "That’s all good my man. You be you. I am rooting for you. Yes I would like to see you at OTAs. But you got to do what’s best for you. Not singling you out.

    "We have discussed all QBs who have not attended OTAs. You are Lamar freaking Jackson!! Of course we r gonna talk bout you."

    Jackson won the MVP award in his second season after throwing for 3,127 yards and 36 touchdowns with just six interceptions. He also ran for 1,206 yards and seven scores.

    However, the Ravens suffered a shock Divisional Round loss to the Tennessee Titans to end that season, and were eliminated at the same stage of the 2020 campaign by the Buffalo Bills.

    Jackson endured an injury-hindered 2021 season, throwing 16 touchdowns to 13 interceptions and adding a career-low two touchdowns on the ground as the Ravens missed the playoffs with an 8-9 record.

    No player in the NFL has a higher yards-per-carry average over the course of the last three seasons than Jackson's 6.36.

  • Brilliant Buttler blasts Royals into IPL final with another hundred Brilliant Buttler blasts Royals into IPL final with another hundred

    The latest episode in Jos Buttler's outstanding 2022 IPL took Rajasthan Royals through to the final and a rematch with Gujarat Titans.

    The Royals were beaten by the Titans in the first qualifier, forcing them to face Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday for a place in the season's showpiece.

    Buttler ensured RCB were soundly beaten, smashing an unbeaten 106 off 60 balls to clinch a seven-wicket victory.

    The Royals still had 11 balls to spare when Buttler's sixth six completed the job on 161-3.

    None of the England star's team-mates had to pass 25 runs as he did all the heavy lifting in partnerships of 61 with Yashasvi Jaiswal, 52 with Sanju Samson, 35 with Devdutt Padikkal and 13 with Shimron Hetmyer in reply to RCB's 157-8.

    A stunning Buttler catch had removed the dangerous Rajat Patidar (58) in the outstanding moment of the RCB innings, too, as his almost single-handed pursuit of the title continued.

    Buttler blowing away the competition

    This has long since been Buttler's best IPL campaign, and there remains a slim chance he also takes the tournament record. In pursuit of Virat Kohli's 973 runs in 2016, he moved on to 824 for this tournament with his fourth century. The rest of the players in this year's IPL have produced only four hundreds between them.

    As well as the most runs in the 2022 IPL, Buttler leads the way for fours (78, 26 clear of second place) and sixes (45, 11 clear).

    Top two tussle once again

    This will be the Royals' first final since the inaugural IPL in 2008, when they took the title, but Rajasthan will have their work cut out against a Titans side who are in their debut season.

    Gujarat finished two points ahead of the second-placed Royals in the points table, having won the match between the pair by 37 runs. The margin in the subsequent qualifier was seven wickets. Buttler top-scored for Rajasthan on both occasions, but their opponents have collectively shown they have the firepower to match him.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.