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The Breakdown: Mink's Five Thoughts on Week 1 Win


The Ravens took care of business with a 25-9 Week 1 win over the Houston Texans Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, but it cameat a cost.

Here are my five takeaways from the game:

Deluge of injuries mar a Week 1 win.

While getting a Week 1 win shouldn't be taken for granted, the Ravens' deluge of injuries scrubbed off some of the shine.

Running back J.K. Dobbins, safety Marcus Williams, left tackle Ronnie Stanley, and center Tyler Linderbaum all left with injuries of varying severities. None was as serious as the Achilles injury suffered by Dobbins, who is confirmed to be done for the season.

You can't help but ache for Dobbins, who worked so hard to get back to this point after his major 2021 preseason knee injury. He's never had the chance to fully show what he's capable of in this league.

When Dobbins soared into the end zone in the first quarter and gave the "feed me" sign, it seemed like it might finally be his time to feast. With Dobbins entering a contract year, it's clear why players want to get their long-term deals done sooner than later. You never know. This game, and business, can be brutal.

Harbaugh said the rest of the injured Ravens will get MRIs to determine the severity. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Williams is feared to have a torn pec, which would also be major but perhaps not season-ending.

Luckily, the Ravens have strong running back depth with Gus Edwards and Justice Hill already on the 53-man roster, and Melvin Gordon III will likely to get called up from the practice squad. Rookie Keaton Mitchell is on injured reserve but could be brought back after a minimum of four games.

Geno Stone has plenty of experience filling in at safety, as does Patrick Mekari at left tackle. Sam Mustipher would be Linderbaum's replacement. But there's no sugarcoating these injuries. They hurt, especially with at trip to Cincinnati on deck.

But this is how it works in the NFL, as the Ravens unfortunately know all too well. It's a shame for a team that was finally relatively healthy coming out of training camp and the preseason. Now, injuries will again be a major storyline, at least early, in the Ravens' season.

Zay Flowers is here, and he is glorious.

The Zay Flowers hype train was off the rails this summer. Turns out, it was all legit.

Flowers operated as WR1 in his first NFL game, making nine catches for 78 yards, as well as two carries. That's more receptions than the rest of the Ravens' pass catchers combined and the most in franchise history by a Ravens rookie in their debut.

It was clear from the first drive that Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken has devised numerous ways to get the ball in the hands of his electric first-round receiver. Flowers' shiftiness and ability to separate from defenders is unparalleled – except by perhaps the guy throwing him the ball. Flowers also played with the swagger of a veteran. The moment didn't seem to overwhelm the confident rookie.

While it's not going to be like this every game, as the Ravens offense will spread the targets around throughout the season, it's proof that Flowers is ready and capable of being a high-volume option.

We should have expected some growing pains with this offense.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, who played for Todd Monken in Tampa Bay and is now an NFL analyst for Amazon Prime Video, told me late this week that there would be "inevitable growing pains" with a new offense and so many new receivers. Hearing from somebody outside the Ravens' walls, not swept up in all the offseason excitement, was a bit sobering, but it makes even more sense after watching this game.

There are a lot of firsts in the Ravens offense, and it looked like it. Not getting any preseason action together also may have played a part. Lamar Jackson was indecisive at times, fumbled twice, and threw a bad interception in what he deemed a "rusty" performance.

The good news is Jackson and the Ravens offense improved in the second half on back-to-back touchdown drives that put the game out of reach. Jackson hit Odell Beckham Jr. with his prettiest pass on the day on a 29-yarder in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens need to get their ground game going better, which will be tough with Dobbins out and Stanley and/or Linderbaum potentially sidelined. They ran for 110 yards on 32 carries. Jackson will get more comfortable with each game in Monken's scheme. What was evident, and should have known all along, is that it's a work in progress.

Anchored in the middle, Baltimore's defense is very good.

What hasn't changed at all is that Baltimore's defense is still very good. It doesn't matter that there was a rookie quarterback, C.J. Stroud, making his first start on the other side. When you hold another NFL team out of the end zone, you had a very good day.

Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen were dominant. Smith had a whopping 16 tackles, a sack, and two tackles for loss. Queen had 11 tackles, a sack, and a pass breakup. They each had fourth-down stops in Texans territory. If those plays weren't made, it would've been a ballgame.

The Ravens' two weakest spots, cornerback and outside linebacker, held up well. It was a bit surprising to see Ronald Darby and Brandon Stephens get the start over Rock Ya-Sin, but you see why. Darby was a strong tackler (seven tackles, including three for no gain or a loss) and good in coverage, and Stephens dropped the hammer a couple times. The Ravens gave up 242 passing yards to Stroud, but he threw it 44 times. That's a win.

In terms of the pass rush, David Ojabo continues to show his knack for sack/strips, getting another in what was essentially his second NFL game. Odafe Oweh was active and Jadeveon Clowney had a couple sacks in his fingertips. The Ravens had five sacks spread between five different defenders. It will probably look like that all year long as the pressure will be spread among various sources, especially up the middle from the two stud inside linebackers.

Extra Points

1. Odell Beckham Jr. is absolutely wired. Obviously, emotions were running high in his first game back since his Super Bowl knee injury, but I have a feeling he's going to be an energy giver all year long. And while two catches for 37 yards isn't going to win fantasy football matchups, Beckham drew two long defensive pass interference calls with his savvy play.

2. The Ravens need to clean up some of the penalties. Thirteen for 106 yards is too much. Travis Jones had a bad one at the end of the first half with a roughing the passer. It was hardly roughing, but still unnecessary. He gave the referee a chance to make that call with the extended arms shove. That's the kind of thing that can lose games.

3. I wondered about Baltimore's ability to hold the edge against the Texans' run game. Mission accomplished. Dameon Pierce had just 38 yards on 11 carries. Malik Harrison had a bigger role than expected playing in the SAM role.

4. Ar'Darius Washington played the nickel spot, which was much debated over the offseason, and he played it well, making six tackles and knifing under the blocking for a big sack.

5. After an uneven rookie season, Jordan Stout looks ready to become one of the NFL's best punters in Year 2. He bombed five punts for a 49.8-yard net average, including three inside the 20-yard line.

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