Ravens QB Lamar Jackson is over Steelers game wants to get WR Marquise Brown more involved
The Baltimore Ravens beat the Pittsburgh Steelers by every metric in their Week Eight matchup except for the two that counted the most which were the turnover battle and the final box score.
Reigning league MVP and starting quarterback Lamar Jackson rightfully shouldered the blame for the team’s 28-24 defeat after his four, almost six, turnover game if you include one of the three fumbles that he recovered and the interception that was overturned after a review.
While his poor performance against the team’s arch division rival will stick with him forever, he’s ready to move on and focus on taking care of the ball better and being the reason the Ravens win and not the orchestrator of their defeat going forward.
“I get over it but it’s going to always be on my mind because we lost that game and I hate having turnovers,” Jackson said. “But you have to move on. Just like during the game, if I have a turnover I keep it going, go on to the next drive. I can’t dwell on it, I have to move forward. That’s what I’m doing now. The game is over with.”
The Ravens are a resilient bunch and nearly overcame the adversity of their own making to pull out a late win against the Steelers before a questionable ending to the game.
Nevertheless, Jackson is still one of the unquestioned leaders of this team who likes to let his actions do the talking more than his words.
“Our guys are not down,” Jackson said. “Our guys came into work, worked their tail off. I think we’ll be fine, but if they need me to say something I will. I’m not really a vocal leader. I lead by example. But if they need me to, I will.”
One way that Jackson can improve and lead by example through greater production would be by getting the ball to his top and most dangerous target in the passing game who also happens to be his closest friend on the team.
Even though second-year wide receiver Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown caught one of Jackson’s two touchdowns against the Steelers, the speedy wideout was targeted just twice in the game and was bothered by his lack of involvement in the offensive game plan.
Brown took to Twitter to voice his frustrations in a tweet that read, “What’s the point of having souljas when you never use them (Never!!).” He would later delete the post, but his plight didn’t fall on deaf ears.
Head Coach John Harbaugh addressed the tweet on Monday and praised Brown for his selflessness and other contributions in last week’s game. Jackson believes that the offense needs to get Hollywood more involved in the passing game as the pass-catcher by any means necessary.
“For sure, that’s one of our key players to our offense,” Jackson said. “We want to get him the ball, the easiest way, the fastest way we can. We just go to do a better job of getting it to him. We’ve got to do better at that and we’ll be fine.”
Harbaugh told reporters earlier this week that the team wants to get all of their pass catchers involved more in the offense and even though Brown didn’t have a huge day against the Steelers, others did step up.
On receiver that Jackson did connect early and often with on Sunday versus the Steelers was veteran Willie Snead. He led the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yards by catching five of the seven passes thrown his way for 106 yards.
“I’m used to seeing that from Willie,” Jackson said. “We do it all the time in practice. I’m glad he did it against the Steelers, a great defensive team. We’ve just got to get all of our guys involved. Just got to keep stacking and building.”
One pass catcher that Ravens fans are itching to see on the field is veteran wide receiver Dez Bryant who was officially signed to the practice squad during the bye week after nearly three years removed from his last regular-season action.
The three-time Pro Bowler has been receiving rave reviews for his work on the practice field as well as his work with the team’s young receivers on and off the field as a leader and mentor.
Jackson has liked what he has seen thus far and is excited about the possibility of suiting up with him on game days in the near future.
“He’s a great route runner, strong hands, he’s dialed into the playbook,” Jackson said. “He’s always asking questions. He wants to compete. I just can’t wait until he can be out there on Sundays and full practices with us.”
As nice as it was to see Snead remind us what he’s capable of, as intriguing as the thought of adding Bryant to this offense is, and as tantalizing as the idea of getting promising rookie Devin Duvernay more touches on offense is after seeing what he’s done in limited action, Jackson was spot on when he called Brown of the “key” players on the Ravens offense.
His elite speed can take the top off any defense, burn any defender and outrun any coverage. Getting Hollywood the ball more could be the key to finding more consistency and explosiveness in the passing game in the second half of the season.
While it has been good to see Brown’s ability to run an expanded route tree this season and even though he leads the team in targets (44), receptions (27), and receiving yards (379) through seven games, he’s at his best and is the most dangerous when he is challenging opposing defenses deep down the field.
He’s the fastest skill player on the roster and if he and Jackson can connect on more deep passes down the stretch, not only will the potential dynamic duo’s per-game averages go up but the offense as a whole will become more multidimensional, explosive, and even harder to defend and game plan for.