Emmanuel Acho Says 'When Lamar Jackson Gets Fully Comfortable, It's Over for Rest of the NFL'
Fox Sports 1 analyst and former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho could not contain his excitement when looking at film of Lamar Jackson from the Ravens' 27-24 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
In just his second game in new Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken's system, Jackson delivered a masterful performance. He was especially good in the second half, completing 8-of-9 passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns for a 150.7 passer rating.
"When Lamar Jackson gets fully comfortable, it's over for the rest of the NFL," Acho said.
Acho pointed to two plays from Sunday's game to illustrate his point. In both, the Ravens were in 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end), a formation they've used on more than half of their offensive plays so far this season, up from just 12 percent last season.
With the Ravens facing third-and-10 from the Bengals' 41-yard line late in the first quarter, Cincinnati lined up in man coverage and rushed five players. Jackson identified the five rushers and threw a deep ball on a slot fade to Zay Flowers, but it was barely overthrown and fell incomplete.
Jackson saw the same coverage on third-and-5 at the Cincinnati 17 with 11:38 remaining in the game and the Ravens clinging to a 20-17 lead. Baltimore again was in 11 personnel. The result this time was a touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor.
"Nelson Agholor, slot fade — the exact same play from the defense and the offense, but Lamar Jackson done got comfortable, and this was the difference in the football game," Acho said. "When Lamar gets comfortable this season, it's gonna be over for the rest of the league. He got comfortable during this game, and it was over for the Bengals."
Pro Football Focus’ Gordon McGuinness noted that Jackson is excelling at throwing downfield.
"The biggest beneficiary of the new talent and depth at wide receiver is obviously Jackson, and you can see that in his success at throwing the ball downfield," McGuinness wrote. "On throws of 10-plus yards downfield, the Ravens quarterback has gone 10-of-16 for 215 yards and a touchdown, not including three plays nullified due to defensive pass interference calls. He has earned a 91.6 PFF grade on such throws, which ranks second in the league. And the Ravens have produced positive expected points added on 65% of those plays, ranking eighth in the league.
"Jackson put his downfield prowess on display in the win over the Bengals, making one of the throws of his career on a 52-yard reception by Zay Flowers, with Jackson putting the ball exactly where it needed to be. He did the same on the touchdown pass to Agholor, with near-perfect timing and touch to allow Agholor to pull the ball in as he crossed the goal line."
Ravens 'Firmly in Conversation' for AFC's Best Team
Heading into this season, the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, and Bengals were generally regarded as the AFC's top-tier teams. Two weeks into the season, the Ravens have made a strong case that they are among the elite in the conference.
Despite injuries to key players such as running back J.K. Dobbins, left tackle Ronnie Stanley, center Tyler Linderbaum, cornerback Marlon Humphrey, and safety Marcus Williams, Baltimore is one of only two undefeated teams in the AFC (the Miami Dolphins are the other).
"Firmly in the conversation," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler said of the Ravens. "Save Dobbins (torn Achilles), those veterans should all be back in the lineup eventually. The defense under coordinator Mike Macdonald can pose problems for opponents with constant pressure. The offense under coordinator Todd Monken has produced 52 points through two games, yet hasn't even reached its potential. Rookie wideout Zay Flowers is a revelation. And while Baltimore will miss Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Co. are capable in the backfield. If I'm ranking AFC teams right now, Baltimore is top three or four."
As for the Bengals, who are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive AFC North titles, ESPN's Dan Graziano said they could be in for a rough season.
"The Bengals were my preseason pick for the Super Bowl, but the 0-2 start and the calf injury that can't seem to stop bugging Joe Burrow have me very concerned," Graziano said. "... At this point it does seem we can assume he isn't fully healthy, which could mean trouble for the Bengals all year."
Despite Missing Two Starters, Offensive Line Ranked Among Top 10
The offensive line was expected to be one of the Ravens' strongest position groups this season, but then Stanley and Linderbaum went down with injuries in Week 1 and were unavailable for the Bengals game.
However, despite being down two starters, the offensive line did an outstanding job of protecting Jackson and paving the way for a rushing attack that gained 178 yards and averaged 4.8 yards per carry. Left tackle Patrick Mekari and center Sam Mustipher proved to be more than capable replacements.
The unit was ranked No. 8 in PFF's latest offensive line rankings, up four sports from Week 1.
"Backup center Sam Mustipher played well in place of Tyler Linderbaum. He was the lone Baltimore offensive lineman to not allow a pressure against Cincinnati," PFF's Zoltan Buday wrote. "Patrick Mekari's 74.5 run-blocking grade ranked 12th among offensive tackles in Week 2."
- M&T Bank Stadium was No. 11 in The Athletic's NFL stadium rankings.