Lamar Jackson is just 22 years old, while Patrick Mahomes will turn 24 next week. Two young quarterbacks taking the NFL by storm.
Jackson has the league’s best quarterback rating through two games, while Mahomes leads the league in passing and is coming off an MVP season.
Any game featuring Jackson and Mahomes has become must-see TV, as it will be Sunday in Kansas City when the Ravens face the Chiefs. Ravens Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale thinks we are watching a new quarterback rivalry that could become legendary.
“That’s the direction this league is going,” Martindale said. “Just as an NFL fan, as a fantasy owner if you will, the NFL’s in good hands with these young quarterbacks. I think you’re going to see two great quarterbacks in this game. We might be seeing the next (Tom) Brady–(Peyton) Manning matchup. (Muhammad) Ali–(Joe) Frazier. Magic (Johnson)–(Larry) Bird.”
Jackson views Sunday as a matchup between the Ravens and Chiefs, not himself and Mahomes. However, with so much attention given to quarterbacks, it stands to reason that the Jackson-Mahomes matchup could produce memorable moments during the coming years, especially if their teams continue to win.
The Ravens just finished facing rookie top-overall pick Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals, another quarterback with mobility who can attack defenses outside the pocket with his throwing and mobility. Martindale believes a new wave of mobile quarterbacks will continue entering the league, and that facing Jackson in every Ravens practice will help their defense cope with the trend.
“All of these young quarterbacks coming out, they can extend plays,” Martindale. “It’s helped us (facing Jackson) with the effort of chasing when they do get out of the pocket.”
Can Baltimore’s Fast Corners Put the Brakes on Hardman’s Speed*? *
The Ravens have a blazing rookie wide receiver, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, who has made a sudden impact on their offense. But the Chiefs have their own impact rookie wideout speedster. Mecole Hardman, a second-round pick from Georgia, had four catches for 61 yards in Week 2, including a 42-yard touchdown reception.
Even with Tyreek Hill (shoulder injury) out of the lineup Sunday, the Chiefs may have the league’s fastest receiving trio in Hardman, Demarcus Robinson and Sammy Watkins.
On the flip side, the Ravens have two of the league’s faster corners in Marlon Humphrey and Anthony Averett. Martindale hopes the downfield coverage abilities of Humphrey and Averett, coupled with the range of safety Earl Thomas, can help negate Kansas City’s speed.
“World-class tight end (Travis Kelce), world-class sprinters at wide receiver,” Martindale said. “It’s going to be a great challenge for us. Those receivers are legit. I mean, they’re a four-by-1 (relay) team. Hill runs about a 4.21 40, they put in a guy who runs about a 4.22 40. They’re fast.”
Humphrey said that the speed of Kansas City’s receivers jumps out when studying game tape.
“We think we got some fast guys here with me and B. (Brandon) Carr,” Humphrey said. “Mecole Hardman a true 4.2, Sammy a 4.3, Robinson (4.4) those are all fast guys. It’s going to be a good test.”
Chiefs Offense Reflects Reid’s Prowess as Offensive Mastermind
Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid has been recognized as a premier offensive coach and innovator for decades.
Hiring offensive-minded head coaches like Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams), Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals), Matt LeFleur (Green Bay Packers), and Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals) is the current trend around the league. However, Martindale says Reid was a trailblazer for offensive coaches.
“I hope he doesn’t get mad at me saying this, he’s the grandfather,” Martindale said. “He’s the O.G. of the innovators of offense. The offense that he has in Kansas City, everybody steals from it. He’s the king of the RPO. He’s the king of the shots (shotgun). He’s the king of the screens. He runs the whole thing. A quarterback like he has, as smart as he is making checks and things like that, it’s a tough out. I think we’re just the men for the job, but it’s a tough out.”
Ravens Wary of Chiefs ‘Game-Wrecker’ Defensive Lineman Chris Jones
Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones finished third in the NFL last season with 15 ½ sacks and has been a force in Kansas City’s first two games with a sack and six tackles. Keeping Jones away from Jackson will be a challenge for the Ravens’ offensive line.
“I haven’t seen anybody stop him yet, so we’ve got our hands full,” Ravens Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said. “I think he’s a very good player and he’s playing at a very high level. He can wreck the game if you let him.”
Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. says Jones is an impressive player.
“He’s a baller,” Brown said. “He’s been really productive up to this point and his career, and I know thais is a contract year for him. I’ve been seeing a lot of good things on film.”
Orioles Manager Brandon Hyde Visits Practice
On Wednesday it was former Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. On Thursday, it was Orioles Manager Brandon Hyde who visited Ravens practice.
A former Raven, Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed, also visited the Orioles this week to throw out the first pitch and take some cracks in the batting cage.