Jackson, Ravens hope to get well offensively vs. Bengals
The Baltimore Ravens are searching for their offense entering Sunday’s home game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson feels responsible.
The Baltimore quarterback had a season for the ages last season when the Ravens led the NFL in scoring (33.2 points per game) and ranked second in total offense (407.6 yards per game). But the production has dropped to seventh in scoring (30.5) and 25th in total offense (341.5) through four games this season.
And the passing attack stands 31st at 180.8 per game, ahead of only the dismal New York Jets (179.5). That is a stat that irritates the 23-year-old Jackson as he enters his first career matchup with fellow Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow of the Bengals.
“No, I’m not happy because I would like to connect with my guys on those passes,” Jackson said Wednesday. “I feel like there are a lot of yards and touchdowns we’ve been leaving on the field when we don’t connect. That’s probably why our passing isn’t where it’s supposed to be. But I feel it’s early in the season.”
Jackson, a former Louisville star, has passed for 769 yards and seven touchdowns against one interception. Mixed into the efforts was a 97-yard showing in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3 — his lowest output as an NFL starter.
Jackson has rushed for 235 yards but has found the end zone just once for the Ravens (3-1). Last season, he rushed for an NFL quarterback-record 1,206 yards to go with seven touchdowns while also throwing for 36 scores.
Jackson surprisingly missed Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury that isn’t considered serious. Meanwhile, coach John Harbaugh made it clear there are plenty of reasons for the offensive drop-off.
“There are a lot of things we can get better at,” Harbaugh said. “You work on all those things all the time and try to improve as best you can. We understand what the issues are, and we study them very closely. It’s not something I really want to broadcast.”
Meanwhile, the Bengals (1-2-1) are highly encouraged about Burrow, the LSU product who is the first rookie in NFL history to pass for at least 300 yards in three straight games.
Burrow has passed for 1,121 yards and six touchdowns against two interceptions, and he expects to be thoroughly tested by the Baltimore defense, which ranks fourth in scoring defense (18.3).
“A lot of blitzing and a lot of man (coverage), and I anticipate a little more than usual because I’m a rookie quarterback and they want to see how I can handle it,” Burrow said.
Burrow hasn’t looked like a novice against some of the schemes run by NFL defenses. He has been praised by teammates for his poise and ability to easily recognize and adjust to situations.
Burrow, 23, also said he is looking forward to going up against Jackson.
“I’m excited to compete against Lamar,” Burrow said. “Obviously, he’s one of the best players in the league going back the past two, three years. He’s unbelievable. He’s fun to watch.”
The Bengals are averaging 24.8 points, and the feeling is that the production will only improve. Not just because of Burrow but because of standout running back Joe Mixon.
The two-time 1,000-yard rusher got off to a slow start with just 164 yards through three games but broke out in a big way during last Sunday’s 33-25 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mixon rushed for a season-best 151 yards and scored a career-high three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving).
“When Joe plays like that and the O-line plays like that, we’re not going to lose a lot of games,” Burrow said.
Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (shoulder), an eight-time Pro Bowl selection who has yet to play this season, was limited in Wednesday’s practice but isn’t in danger of missing the game.
Six other Ravens joined Jackson in missing practice. Among those were cornerbacks Marcus Peters (thigh) and Jimmy Smith (knee).
Baltimore has won the past three meetings.
–Field Level Media