The Baltimore Ravens are reeling after an embarrassing loss on Monday Night Football to the Las Vegas Raiders. A short week leaves no time for the team to lick its wounds as they face another primetime test. This time, they will meet the two-time defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs. Lamar Jackson will need help to avoid an 0-2 start, beginning with Mark Andrews.
Mark Andrews earned his $56 million contract extension
The Ravens signed tight end Mark Andrews to a four-year contract extension before their season opener. The extension is worth up to $56 million and makes him the third highest-paid tight end in the NFL. The deal includes $37.6 million in guaranteed money.
Andrews has been productive since entering the league and earned the long-term deal. The Ravens drafted him with the No. 86 overall pick in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The Oklahoma product provided Baltimore with a legitimate weapon at the tight end position.
Andrews recorded 156 receptions for 2,105 yards and 20 touchdowns in his first three seasons with the Ravens. He earned a Pro Bowl selection in 2019 after catching a career-high 10 touchdown passes.
Baltimore enlists a run-heavy attack under offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Still, Andrew has been able to produce. The Scottsdale, Arizona native has proven to be a vital piece of the Ravens offense.
General manager Eric DeCosta thinks highly of Andrews’ ability. He’s “one of the better tight ends in the entire NFL,” he said per The Baltimore Sun.
With all of the injuries in the Ravens locker room, the team needs Andrews more than ever in 2021.
Andrews failed to show up in the Ravens Week 1 loss to the Raiders
The Ravens offense has been one of the league’s most explosive units over the past few seasons. They lacked that same explosiveness in the season opener against the Raiders.
The injuries have decimated the roster, but especially the offense. J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards were expected to pace the running game, along with Lamar Jackson. Baltimore was still effective running the ball, led by Jackson and running back Ty’Son Williams.
Wide receivers Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins utilized their speed to create separation and make a few plays. However, Mark Andrews did not show up in the same fashion.
Andrews was targeted five times and recorded three receptions for a measly 20 yards. He had a bad drop in overtime as well, negating a potential first down. The drive eventually stalled after a Jackson fumble.
It’s just one game, so his quiet season debut isn’t too alarming. However, the Ravens paid the fourth-year tight end to make plays in big moments. He failed to do so in Week 1.
Lamar Jackson and the offense need a big Mark Andrews game
The Ravens host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football in their home opener. They finished with 406 yards of total offense against the Raiders in what was actually a balanced attack.
If Baltimore has any chance of knocking off the Chiefs, they will need to make more big plays on offense. There’s a great deal of pressure on Lamar Jackson’s shoulders heading into the matchup.
The former MVP is currently 0-3 against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. His woes against Kansas City are no secret. He needs to be able to shake this narrative, no matter how unfair it may be. The Chiefs are a household name in the AFC, and they were the favorites to win Super Bowl LVI.
Jackson can’t win this game by himself, though. He needs a lot of help. The offensive line simply has to play better. Maxx Crosby and Carl Nassib bullied the Ravens’ offensive tackles. Another lackluster performance on primetime is not going to cut it.
Greg Roman has panicked in games where the Ravens have to play from behind. He tends to get away from the game plan and puts added responsibility on Jackson instead of playing Ravens football. He must show poise with his play-calling if Kansas City jumps out to an early lead.
Jackson will also need his big-time playmakers to make big-time plays. Mark Andrews got his money. Now, he needs to prove he’s worth it. He undoubtedly has the talent of an elite NFL tight end. The Ravens can’t afford drops due to a lack of concentration. If he shows up, Jackson will have his much-needed security blanket.
Above all else, Lamar Jackson needs to take care of the football. Beating the Chiefs is not impossible, but the Ravens will need several factors to work in their favor.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference