Why Was Lamar Jackson Trending on Twitter?
Even though the Ravens aren't in the playoffs, Lamar Jackson was trending on Twitter this morning.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray's dismal playoff debut last night (he was 19-for-34 for 137 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions, including a pick-six, in a 34-11 loss to the Los Angeles Rams) put criticism of Jackson's playoff performances into perspective.
Meanwhile, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott fell to 1-3 in the postseason after Dallas' 23-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday; 33-year-old Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford just got his first postseason win; and in Patriots rookie Mac Jones' first playoff game, New England was routed by the Buffalo Bills, 47-17.
I'm not disparaging Murray, Prescott, Stafford or Jones. And Jackson is the first to admit that his 1-3 record in the playoffs isn't good enough. But the disproportionate amount of criticism Jackson has received for his lack of postseason success is another example of him being held to a different standard than other quarterbacks.
Will Joe Burrow Replace Ben Roethlisberger as Ravens' Longtime Nemesis?
Over the weekend, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow played in his first playoff game, while Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger likely played in his last.
So as the Ravens bid farewell to one longtime nemesis, has another emerged? Baltimore Positive’s Luke Jones raised the question.
"The Ravens certainly won't miss Ben Roethlisberger and his 19-10 career record against them, but you wonder if Joe Burrow is stepping right into that nemesis role with the way he's excelled in his second season," Jones wrote.
Burrow led the Bengals to their first playoff win in 31 years on Saturday, as he completed 24 of 34 passes for 244 yards in a 26-19 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders.
The 2020 No. 1-overall pick is coming off a regular season in which he led the league in completion percentage (70.4), yards per attempt (8.9) and air yards per attempt (9.0) and had the second-highest quarterback rating (108.3).
In the Bengals' two blowout wins over the Ravens this season, Burrow threw for 941 yards and seven touchdowns, as Cincinnati put up 82 points.
With Burrow, 25, as the centerpiece, the Bengals have a strong nucleus of talented young players on offense that includes running back Joe Mixon (25) and wide receivers Ja'Marr Chase (21), Tee Higgins (22) and Tyler Boyd (27).
"It helps throwing to a talent like Ja'Marr Chase, whose 116 receiving yards against Las Vegas was only the fifth-highest total of his rookie season," Jones wrote. "Chase's two-game torching of the Ravens is common knowledge, but 266 yards against the Chiefs and 159 against Green Bay reflect some serious prime-time ability."
It's easy to see why Ravens-Bengals might be the top rivalry in the AFC North in the coming years.
While the Steelers search for Roethlisberger's successor (players are rallying around Mason Rudolph) and questions swirl about Baker Mayfield's long-term future as the Cleveland Browns' starting quarterback, the Ravens have Jackson leading a core of talented offensive skill position players who are all 26 or younger: tight end Mark Andrews (26), running backs J.K. Dobbins (23) and Gus Edwards (26) and wide receivers Marquise "Hollywood" Brown (24) and Rashod Bateman (22).
"Of course, Cincinnati's been thinking the same about Lamar Jackson [possibly being their next longtime nemesis] for a few years," Jones wrote.
Ravens Named Potential Landing Spot for Bengals Safety Jessie Bates III
Speaking of the Ravens-Bengals rivalry, Pro Football Network’s Dallas Robinson listed Baltimore as a potential landing spot for Cincinnati pending free-agent safety Jessie Bates III.
"The Ravens have spent big on a safety in the recent past. In 2018, they signed Earl Thomas to a four-year, $55 million deal with the hope that he'd play center field," Robinson wrote. "Thomas didn't even make it to Year 2 thanks to off-field/personality issues, but Baltimore has shown a willingness to invest in the position. Bates' presence would allow incumbent Chuck Clark to stay closer to the action, and together, they'd form one of the better safety tandems in the league."
Pro Football Focus ranked Bates, 25, as the 11th-best pending free agent. A second-team All-Pro last season, Bates has started 63 games in his four seasons in Cincinnati.
Ebony Bird’s Justin Fried believes Bates would be a good fit in Baltimore if the Ravens don't re-sign pending free-agent safety DeShon Elliott, but he doesn't think the Ravens acquiring Bates is realistic.
"While Bates and the Bengals couldn't come to terms on a long-term extension last offseason, there's no reason Cincinnati should just let him walk," Fried wrote. "The Bengals are projected to have over $50 million in cap space this offseason meaning that they have plenty of money to keep Bates in town. Whether that's an extension to the franchise tag, it's hard to see Bates leaving.
"That said, what if he does shake free? … From a stylistic standpoint, Bates would be a great fit for the Ravens. His skill set perfectly complements Chuck Clark's and it's not as if Bates lacks experience playing in the AFC North. However, there's more at play here than just play style. Bates will likely be asking for quite a bit of money on the open market, and the Ravens have other needs to address and other players to re-sign, not to mention Lamar Jackson's upcoming extension."