Ravens WR Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown is going primetime at the right time
The Baltimore Ravens drafted speedy wide receiver Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown with the 25th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma with the hope that he would bring an explosive element to their passing game to pair with their already dominant rushing attack.
After he flashed glimpses of his playmaking potential as a rookie while still recovering from offseason foot surgery, he was widely believed to be poised for a breakout season in year two.
Brown showed more flashes, played more snaps, put up better stats, and appeared in all 16 games in the 2020 regular season, he lacked consistency at times, struggled with drops, and was even disgruntled at one point for what he perceived to be a lack of involvement in the game plan.
He led the Ravens in targets (100), receiving yards (769), receiving touchdowns (eight), yards per reception among players with at least 10 targets (13.3), and tied tight end Mark Andrews for the team lead in receptions (58).
His 2020 production as a whole was solid given that the Ravens are a run-centric offense but still weren’t exactly eye-popping or Pro Bowl worthy and far from what many projected coming into the year.
However, Browns’ uptick in production during a crucial five-game stretch to close out the season helped propel the Ravens to the playoffs and once he got there, he showed out in a big way in their 20-13 win over the Tennessee Titans on Super Wildcard Weekend.
“The playoffs are a whole new season. Everybody is 0-0, so what happened in the regular season really doesn’t matter,” Brown said. “It’s about what you do now. So, that’s all we’ve been preaching to each other, and that’s all we’re trying to go out there and do – go 1-0 each week.”
After a midseason slump when he only managed to haul in six of his 17 targets for just 55 yards and one touchdown in November, Brown recorded 26 catches for 338 yards and six touchdowns from Week 12-17.
“He had a few drops there, but we work through that. Really and truly, from the last five [or] six weeks, he’s really improved,” Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said. “We see it in practice. I think our timing – his timing with Lamar [Jackson] – has improved. So, we need him. We need him to show up. He’s a big part of what we want to do.”
He had the second-best game of his rookie season from a production standpoint in the Ravens 28-12 loss to Tennessee in the Divisional Round of last year’s playoffs with seven catches for 126 yards.
On Sunday, he had arguably his best of his sophomore season against the Titans with 28 yards from scrimmage on nine touches. He led the team in receiving with seven receptions for 109 yards and added 19 yards on the ground on a pair of rushes that came via backward passes.
“It’s just a credit to him,” Roman said. “He showed up big for us last year in the playoffs – in the playoff game we had – and low and behold, he does again the other day. He’s been working hard. I really think he’s gotten better and better.”
Brown used his first offseason where he was fully healthy and not rehabbing from surgery to add more muscle to his slender frame without sacrificing any of his elite speed and work on becoming a more complete receiver and not just a vertical threat.
Both he and reigning league MVP, Lamar Jackson, raised their game down the stretch and all of their hard work since their premature exit from last year’s postseason seems to be paying off as both players appear to be playing loose and with more confidence.
While Brown was struggling some fans and pundits were highly critical of him and wondering if he was ever going to live up to his nickname ‘Hollywood’ that is both an homage to his hometown of Hollywood, Florida and his big-play potential, his coaches and teammates never wavered in their belief in his ability to show up and show out.
“We expect nothing less out of every man on that field,” offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr said. “We know that every man on that field is a great playmaker, including the guys upfront. ‘Hollywood’ is deserving of that; he works hard, he put in a lot of time this offseason, and he’s stuck with it throughout this season. I couldn’t be happier for him in terms of how he prepares, and how he performs.
His emergence over the last month and a half helped the Ravens offense evolve into the balanced attack that has become just as dangerous, explosive, and capable of making plays through the air as they are on the ground where they have historically been the league’s best by a wide margin since Jackson took over the reins.
“I’ve [always] known what he was capable of,” Jackson said. “Me and him are from the same place – Broward County, [FL] – and he has that ‘dog’ in him. Even in practice and stuff like that, he wants to win in practice.
“So, he just puts it over to the game, and it just shows you guys what he’s capable of. I already knew that. We’ve been seeing it since ‘OU’ [The University of Oklahoma]. He’s just stepped it up a notch.”
The Ravens have struggled to hit on the wide receiver position in the draft during the first 25 years of the franchise outside of Torrey Smith who was also a speedster but was never named to a Pro Bowl and topped 1,000 yards receiving just once in his eight-year career, the first four of which were spent in Baltimore.
Brown has the potential to be their first homegrown to reach elite status and become recognized as one of the best in the game if he can continue to elevate his play the way he has as of late and in his two trips to the postseason.