Ravens opponents are doing all they can to limit TE Mark Andrews
The Baltimore Ravens had a lot of players breakout last season including tight end Mark Andrews who was named to his first career Pro Bow after leading the team in targets, receptions, receiving yards and his 10 touchdowns were not only the most on the team but most in the league at his position in 2019.
Andrews appeared to have picked up where he left off in his second season to start his third when he hauled in five passes for 58 yards and pair of touchdowns, including an insane one-hander in the Ravens’ season-opening 38-6 rout of the Cleveland Browns in Week One.
However, in the last two weeks, since his statement game to start the season, he’s seen a lot more attention from opposing defenses and has been limited to just four catches for 51 yards even though he’s been targeted 11 times in that span.
Against the Chiefs on Monday Night Football he had a performance he’d like to forget and finished with just three receptions for 22 yards. There were several instances where he and quarterback Lamar Jackson were either not in sync or he had a catchable pass bounce off his hands or chest.
His most egregious gaffe came in the Ravens’ first offensive drive of the third quarter when they were down by 17 points and were trying to capitalize off of a turnover that their defense forced. Baltimore had driven down to Kansas City’s 26-yard line when quarterback Lamar Jackson tried to complete a pass to him deep down the middle of the field for what would’ve been a touchdown had Andrews controlled the catch to the ground.
It would’ve cut the Chiefs’ lead to 10 points and maximized the value of that drive. Instead, the Ravens settled for a 42-yard Justin Tucker field goal three plays later and were still down by two touchdowns.
Andrews has been Jackson’s favorite target in the passing game since he was inserted into the starting role midway through their rookie seasons and it’s well documented as evident by his stats compared to the rest of the Ravens’ pass catchers over that span. Defenses have been rotating coverage in his direction and have devoted multiple defenders to bracketing him in coverage.
“Doubling him, trying to knock us off our pivot,” Jackson said. “But it’s all good. It’s just Week 3. We’re going to get better as the season goes on.”
Preventing the reigning league MVP from linking up with one of his most dangerous targets, especially in the red zone, has become a top priority for the Ravens opponents and will continue to be a focus of theirs going forward. However, Head Coach John Harbaugh believes that defenses making a more concerted effort to limit Andrews will create more opportunities for Baltimore’s other offensive weapons t make plays in the passing game.
“They know who he is, that’s for sure,” Harbaugh said. “A lot of those plays are plays that we’ll make a lot of times. Sometimes that’s the difference. You make a couple of plays and things open up. If they’re going to give Mark more attention, we’re going to have to find other ways to make them pay for that. If they overcommit one place, we’ve got to attack them somewhere else. That’s something we’re looking at very hard, to make sure that we can do that.”
Don’t expect Andrews’ recent production slump to continue last much longer. He and Jackson have shown that they can consistently hookup for big gains and touchdowns with several defenders in his general vicinity and in tight windows down the field and in the end zone. Expect for his numbers to normalize in short order.