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Late for Work: Odafe Oweh Made 'Immense Impact' in Season-Opening Win

OLB Odafe Oweh
OLB Odafe Oweh

Odafe Oweh Among Unsung Heroes in Season-Opening Win

The impact a player makes in a game doesn't always show up in the box score. Baltimore Beatdown’s Joshua Reed identified the unsung heroes in the Ravens' season-opening win over the Houston Texans, and outside linebacker Odafe Oweh was at the top of the list.

The Ravens are expecting the 2021 first-round pick to make a leap this season and he's off to a good start.

"While the third-year pro wasn't one of the five Ravens defenders to record a sack, he was by far their most consistent and disruptive pass rusher on Sunday," Reed wrote. "Oweh relentlessly brought the heat and generated pressure off the edge going up against three-time Pro Bowler Laremy Tunsil. His get-off and quickness were so explosive at times that he drew multiple holding penalties. He finished with three total tackles, a team-leading three quarterback hits, and according to Pro Football Focus, he recorded seven pressures which tied for the second-most in the league in Week 1."

The Baltimore Banner’s Jonas Shaffer also singled out Oweh for his performance against the Texans.

"Outside linebacker Odafe Oweh has had more memorable home openers than Sunday. As a rookie in 2021, the first-round pick forced and recovered a fumble that kept the Ravens' comeback hopes alive in an eventual Week 2 win over the Kansas City Chiefs," Shaffer wrote. "But a more complete home opener? How about a more complete game in his entire Ravens career? It'd be hard to find. … He didn't have a sack, but his impact on the game was immense."

Here are two other players who flew under the radar Sunday, according to Reed:

DB Ar'Darius Washington

"The former undrafted free agent in 2021 finally carved out a nice role for himself in the Ravens defense as the starting nickel and didn't disappoint in the season opener. Washington was flying around all over the field to get in on tackles, played tight in coverage, and was very effective as a blitzer off the edge. He finished with the fifth-most total tackles on the team with six, a tackle for loss, a pass breakup, a quarterback hit, and his first career sack, which helped kill a fourth-quarter drive by the Texans after they had crossed midfield."

DT Michael Pierce

"The eighth-year veteran interior defensive lineman played a vital role in making the Texans have to play one-dimensional and essentially abandon their run game. He made it tough sledding to move the ball between the tackles, helped limit Houston running back Dameon Pierce to just 38 rushing yards on 11 carries, and regularly occupied multiple blockers, which allowed the Ravens' elite inside backer duo to wreak havoc. Pierce finished with three total tackles, and a fumble recovery, and even though he didn't register a sack or quarterback hit, his presence as an interior pass rusher was still apparent at times."

More Praise Heaped on Zay Flowers

A player who definitely isn't flying under the radar is first-round wide receiver Zay Flowers, who continues to receive rave reviews for his debut.

Flowers, who had a team-high nine catches for 78 yards (as well as two carries for nine yards) against the Texans, was No. 5 in "Good Morning Football's" Peter Schrager's top five rookie performers of Week 1.

"Zay was awesome," Schrager said. "Zay Flowers did a lot of different things from a lot of different places. Lamar [Jackson]'s favorite target was Zay. The after-the-catch stuff was fantastic. All the things imagined coming out of Boston College, we saw it actually take form in this game. They used him in a myriad of ways: behind the line of scrimmage, out wide, at the 'X,'at the 'Y.'"

Flowers' performance was comparable to some of the league's top wide receivers.

"His targets, catches and yards all ranked in the top 15 among Week 1 wide receiver performances, with only the Miami Dolphins' Tyreek Hill (11 catches), Buffalo Bills' Stefon Diggs (10) and Los Angeles Rams' Puka Nacua (10) hauling in more passes," The Baltimore Sun’s Brian Wacker wrote. "Meanwhile, Flowers' yards per route run (2.79) ranked 13th, while his average separation (3.5 yards) ranked 12th, according to ESPN's Next Gen Stats, just a half-yard behind Minnesota Vikings star and the NFL's leading receiver last season Justin Jefferson."

Flowers received a 78.2 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, which ranked as the third-best among 19 rookie wide receivers.

"Flowers was the Ravens' best skill player against Houston," PFF’s Dalton Wasserman wrote. "His change of direction is incredible, as evidenced by his four forced missed tackles. Flowers lined up all over the field, and his prowess in the screen game (five catches on screens) makes him a dangerous weapon at all times."

Sports Illustrated’s Matt Verderame placed Flowers in the "rising" category in his rookie stock watch.

"Historically, it has been difficult to project Ravens receivers considering the scheme is more run-heavy than most. That may be changing under new coordinator Todd Monken, and Flowers is a beneficiary," Verderame wrote. "With veteran running back J.K. Dobbins out for the season with a torn Achilles, Flowers's development is more important than ever for Baltimore."

Jackson's Red-Zone Extended Concerning Trend

ESPN’s Jamison Hensley noted that a concerning trend continued for the Ravens on Sunday: turning the ball over in the red zone.

On the Ravens' second possession, Jackson threw an interception on third-and-6, costing the team points on a drive that started at the Texans' 36-yard-line.

"In Jackson's first three seasons (37 games), he threw 47 touchdowns and no interceptions in the red zone. In his last three seasons (25 games), Jackson has totaled 25 touchdowns and four interceptions inside the 20-yard line," Hensley wrote.

Jackson also fumbled twice during the game (losing one). It was uncharacteristic and could be attributed to it being the first game he has played since suffering a season-ending knee injury the first week of December.

"He's not known for giving up the ball. This was the 10th time in 55 starts that he recorded multiple turnovers," Hensley wrote.

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