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Late for Work 9/15: Three Ways Lamar Jackson's Passing Has Improved

QB Lamar Jackson
QB Lamar Jackson

Pundits Continue to Praise Lamar Jackson's Passing Performance

Praise for Lamar Jackson's passing performance against the Cleveland Browns in Sunday's 38-6 rout continues to roll in.

Cleveland was committed to slowing Baltimore's record-setting running game, so the offense rode Jackson's arm to great success. The manner in which the Ravens won the game was one of the most significant storylines from Week 1,’s Gregg Rosenthal wrote.

"The Ravens don't need to run well to embarrass a defense," Rosenthal wrote. "Baltimore's ground game gained 107 yards against the Browns, which sounds respectable — until you realize it was the team's lowest total in Lamar Jackson's 23 career regular-season starts. It's scary that the Ravens can still put up 38 points without much of a running game, but that's life with Lamar.. … It almost feels unfair to live in this time of Young Lamar and Young Patrick Mahomes. As with the fact that this entire season exists at all, I will not take it for granted."

"Good Morning Football's" Nate Burleson called the reigning MVP "the most complete quarterback in the NFL."

"He did this Week 1, three [passing] touchdowns, effortlessly," Burleson said. "Didn't throw a pick. Every throw was just beautifully placed and he made the right decision on time."

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote: "It was striking to see how calm and in command Jackson was with everything he was doing Sunday. His feel for the pocket was outstanding. His accuracy was on point and his decision-making was nearly flawless. He made some really tough throws, too. Jackson has been dynamic since Day 1 and he certainly made a few 'Wow' throws Sunday, but the most impressive thing of all was just how routine everything looked for him. He's clearly seeing the field and processing everything very quickly and that bodes well for the rest of the season."

ESPN’s Jamision Hensley identified three ways Jackson has improved as a passer:

Tight windows. "Jackson was 3 of 4 on tight-window throws Sunday. He hit a well-covered Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown on a perfectly thrown 47-yard strike. Last year, he completed 31% of those throws. The key is Jackson is throwing to specific areas and not targets."

Deeper throws. "One of Jackson's biggest goals was to drive the ball more downfield. Jackson did just that against the Browns, going 9 of 10 for 180 yards on passes of 10 yards or more, including a 19-yard touchdown pass to Willie Snead (which traveled 18 yards in the air). That's the most such completions in a game in Jackson's career. Last season, Jackson completed just 49.2% of passes over 10 yards, which ranked 19th in the NFL."

Play action. "Jackson was a perfect 10 of 10 for 128 yards on play-action passes against Cleveland, including his 5-yard touchdown pass to [Mark] Andrews in the first quarter. That tied for the most play-action completions of Jackson's career. Last season, Jackson completed 65.1% of play-action attempts, which ranked just 22nd in the NFL."

With Dominant Performance, Ravens Quickly Shut Down Any Talk of a Letdown

For the third season in a row, the Ravens blew out their opponents in Week 1, but Sunday's blowout was different.

Unlike the past two seasons, the Ravens entered the season-opening contest as one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl. Could they continue the dominance they showed during their 12-game winning streak last year, especially against a talented division rival that handed them their last regular-season loss?

It's just one game, but the answer was a resounding yes. And while the Ravens' lopsided win over the Browns may not have been completely unexpected, it shouldn't be taken for granted, especially considering the unique nature of this season as a result of the pandemic.

"They've won 13 straight regular-season games, and with the exception of the first (a brutal game they gutted out in Pittsburgh), there hasn't been even a single 'letdown' game they've been forced to survive," Press Box’s Glenn Clark wrote. "It would have been easy for the pandemic, protests, the Earl Thomas drama, some personnel changes, a lack of 'atmosphere' in the stadium, strange procedures during practice, etc., to lead to a flatter performance — even if the Ravens ultimately survived against a lesser opponent. But that didn't happen. They overcame all of that AND the mundane nature of the circumstances to deliver just another brilliant performance."

Ravens Wire’s Matthew Stevens expressed a similar sentiment.

"With the dust of Week 1 settling, I'm sure we'll hear about how the Browns are the Browns just like we heard the Dolphins were awful last year," Stevens wrote. "But Cleveland was viewed by many as serious playoff contenders this season … at least before this game. The Browns have an undeniably talented roster, practically built like a fantasy football team.

"Look, it's a very long season and anything can happen over the final 15 games, so no one should be quick to make definitive statements. But for those that believed the Ravens were in for a massive letdown this season, evidence of the contrary can be found on the scoreboard and on the stat sheet."

Good Morning Football's Peter Schrager, noting how well the Ravens performed on both sides of the ball against Cleveland, said: "I'm so excited to see the Ravens progress because this could have gone one of two ways, and it went the right way [Sunday]."

Fans Remind Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr. of Snarky Tweets About Marcus Peters

Cleveland Browns wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. learned two valuable lessons about being snarky on social media: Tweets live in perpetuity and fans have long memories.

After Marcus Peters agreed to a three-year contract extension with the Ravens last December, Landry and Beckham Jr. threw some shade the All-Pro cornerback's way on Twitter.

Neither of Cleveland's Pro Bowl wide receivers had memorable performances Sunday. Landry had five receptions for 61 yards (which led the team), while Beckham was held to three catches for 22 yards on a team-high 10 targets and had a critical drop on third down inside the Ravens' 20-yard line late in the first half when the game was still relatively close.

Of course, it wasn't Peters alone who contained the Browns receivers. Fellow All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey and the rest of the secondary also played well.

After the game, fans took to Twitter to remind Landry and Beckham of their comments about Peters' contact extension. Here's a sample of them, courtesy of Ravens Wire:

To be fair, Peters certainly isn't shy when it comes to talking trash, which may have been what caused Landry and Beckham to post their tweets in December, six days after the Ravens beat the Browns, 31-15.

The teams will see each other again when Cleveland hosts the Ravens on Dec. 14.

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