Mark Andrews was in Baker Mayfield’s wedding, but he readily admits he has better football chemistry with Lamar Jackson.
While Mayfield-Andrews were a dangerous combination at Oklahoma, Jackson-Andrews is putting up even bigger numbers together in the NFL.
Andrews has been targeted by Jackson 17 times in the first two weeks, just one shy of wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. Andrews leads the NFL in receiving yards for a tight end (22) and is tied atop the league in first-down receptions (12) and catches of 20 or more yards (six).
“With Baker, he had a lot of other guys around him that he gravitated to first. It wasn’t until my third year there playing with him that that came on,” Andrews said. “It wasn’t an immediate impact and chemistry with him as it is with Lamar.”
Jackson and Andrews even have a name for their chemistry. It’s “Street Ball,” they say.
It’s like when you’re playing with your best buddies in the backyard and say in the huddle, “just get open” and they do.
“It’s the way he sees the game and the way I see the game. It’s very similar,” Andrews said after making eight catches for 112 yards and a touchdown in Week 2 against the Cardinals. “Say I have an out-route, but the guy ends up outside. I’ll just sit it or something like that. [It’s] just being able to play smart ball.”
The connection started early on, Andrews said. He would run a route a little different than it was drawn up and Jackson would see it the same way and throw it perfectly on time.
The Ravens have given Andrews – a slick route-runner with great feel for the game – more liberty to improvise this season. Baltimore has done the same for Jackson.
“He makes my life a ton easier and I help him,” Andrews said.
It can be a foundational relationship for a young quarterback to have in order to flourish in the NFL. Just look at Joe Flacco’s career. He started with Todd
Heap, then transitioned to a “bromance” with Dennis Pitta, which was critical for Flacco’s success over the years.
Jackson and Andrews appear to be developing a similar kind of on-field bond.
“He finds a way to get open. I just have to throw him perfect passes,” Jackson said. “It also started in OTAs. He was doing a lot in OTAs, different plays, different schemes and defensive runs. He finds a way to get open. I just call it street ball.”
Andrews’ on-field demeanor fits with the description too. He’ll celebrate a catch right in a defender’s face and give them a little bump on the way by just to make sure they see.
It’s kind of like the star tight end Andrews will see this Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. Chiefs four-time Pro Bowler Travis Kelce is a player Andrews has tried to model his game after.
“I’ve watched a lot of film of Travis Kelce and looked up to him,” Andrews said. “I don’t know if we’re comparable or not. I’ll leave that for ya’ll to decide. But I think we both have certain strong points in our game. Obviously, he’s been one of the best, if not the best, tight end in the league for a long time. So I have a lot of respect for him.”
While Andrews is No. 1 among NFL tight ends in receiving yards, Kelce sits just 25 yards behind him at No. 2. We’ll see which tight ends has more celebrations Sunday afternoon.
“He’s got a lot of confidence, a lot of swagger to his game. It’s fun to watch a guy like that,” Andrews said with a smile. “I think I bring some of that as well.”