As former Heisman Trophy winners, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield will always have a connection with each other. The two got to know each other while they were in college and during the pre-draft process and has enjoyed being around him.
“It’s pretty cool,” Jackson said of his relationship with Mayfield. “He’s pretty funny. He likes to dance, show off and stuff like that – have fun.”
“Lamar is one of the most talented people I’ve ever seen," Mayfield said. "I love Lamar. He’s a happy, fun-loving guy, but he’s competitive. Once he gets out there, he wants to win."
While Jackson is only being used in certain packages, Mayfield is now the Browns’ starting quarterback. This Sunday will be his first home start. Looking from afar, Jackson has been impressed with what he has seen from Mayfield.
“He has played tremendous so far,” Jackson said. “The sky’s the limit.”
Mayfield has been impressed with the way that Jackson has accepted his role as Flacco's backup/offensive weapon.
"I think he’s doing a great job of making it about the team," Mayfield said. "He wants to play quarterback. He’s said that a couple of times, but at the same time, he wants to do anything to help the team win. So, I think, kudos to him for that. That’s putting the team before himself and realizing that he can help y’all out.”
Jackson has yet to break a big play for the Ravens, but he believes it’s coming. Against the Steelers, he had four carries for 17 yards, helping to keep several drives going.
“As long as it’s helping get positive yards, put us in great field position, I’m Ok with it,” Jackson said.
New Pieces in Ravens’ Wide Receiver Puzzle Fitting Nicely Together
Revamping the wide receiver group is one thing. Getting the pieces to fit quickly together is another. The Ravens have done both.
John Brown, Michael Crabtree, and Willie Snead IV have been everything the Ravens could have hoped for through four games. Not only are they producing, but they provide different attributes like Brown’s big-play explosiveness, Snead’s chain-moving grabs, and Crabtree’s veteran craftiness in the red zone.
This is what General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh envisioned after Brown, Crabtree, and Snead were acquired during the offseason.
“I think Ozzie did a great job with that,” Harbaugh said. “You can’t always control that, what’s available, the circumstances of getting guys signed, all those crazy things that happen during the offseason, contracts and things. He just put it together really well. Those guys were fits from the beginning.”
Crabtree and Snead lead the team with 18 catches apiece, while Brown is just behind with 15 catches and leads the team in receiving touchdowns (three) and receiving yards (338).
Compare that to what former Ravens receivers, who were with the team last year, have done after moving on. Mike Wallace (Eagles) and Michael Campanaro (Titans) are on the injured list, while Jeremy Maclin and Breshad Perriman are looking for work.
While not comparing this year’s team to last year’s, quarterback Joe Flacco is clearly elated about his new receivers.
“I know going into every situation that no matter where the ball ends up, it’s going to be a guy that I want to throw the ball to,” Flacco said. “I think the guys are just doing a really good job of creating good throwing environments, and they’re just getting open quickly, doing such a good job up at the line of scrimmage and getting releases and all the different things you have to do to get open. That’s awesome to see as a quarterback.”
Michael Crabtree Isn’t Worried About His Drops
Despite his production, Crabtree (18 catches, 184 yards, one touchdown) would have even better numbers if a few passes had not slipped away.
Crabtree leads the NFL in drops with five, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). He had six drops last year and 14 in 2016, per PFF.
Asked about that Wednesday, Crabtree said he was not worried.
“It’s football, man. You’re going to drop some,” Crabtree said. “My main objective is to catch all of them. Like I said, it’s early right now. I’m out there just playing. Whatever it may be, I’ll just take it, man, and run with it.”
Crabtree has caught at least 58 passes in each of the last four seasons. He figures to become even more productive as his comfort level increases in the Ravens’ offense.
“The whole offense as a whole, I think we are just now getting started,” Crabtree said. “Trying to get better and doing my job and helping the guys around me. [If] we can do that, I think we can flourish.”
Tony Jefferson Delivering Big Plays as Promised
This offseason, Tony Jefferson vowed to be a difference-maker at safety after not playing up to his standards last season in his first year with the Ravens.
Sunday night’s victory in Pittsburgh may have been Jefferson’s best game in a Ravens uniform, and his play all season has been solid. Jefferson’s first quarter strip of Steelers tight end Vance McDonald set up the Ravens’ first touchdown and set the tone for a 26-14 victory.
The week before, Jefferson had a fourth-down pass breakup against the Denver Broncos that essentially closed out the game. He leads Baltimore in tackles (24) and has been especially strong bolstering the Ravens’ No. 4-ranked run defense.
With the fumble recovery and his Week 1 interception against the Buffalo Bills, Jefferson also leads the Ravens defense in turnovers.
“My goal going into this season was to help out the turnover margin for this defense, make some plays for this defense, be the playmaker I know I can be,” Jefferson said. “It’s all about the team, doing what I can to get us to where we need to be.”
Jefferson is looking forward to facing Mayfield on Sunday, as both played college football at Oklahoma. They did a little trash-talking via text messages recently. Mayfield said he was watching tape and joked that he saw the Ravens holding.
“They didn’t call it, so …” Jefferson said with a laugh.