The 2020 Ravens offense has taken a step back from its unstoppable 2019 form, something that is becoming more obvious with every passing week. The team's latest struggles came against Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon, leading to their second loss of the season.
Reigning MVP Lamar Jackson struggled to find a rhythm against the Steelers, turning the ball over four times in one of the worst statistical performances of his career. Jackson's play has regressed throughout the season, and NBC Sports' Michael Holley and Michael Smith officially worried about the young phenom.
"I’m worried about Lamar Jackson, I’m concerned about Lamar Jackson," Michael Smith told his co-host. "I’m concerned about this entire offensive situation in Baltimore. Because I thought that Kansas City was their kryptonite, I thought Tennessee was an outlier...but watching him complete 60% this year overall, watching him turn the ball over, watching him struggle with pressure, and now watching Ronnie Stanley go down for the season, I’m really worried about him."
It's not just the offense looking out of sync that's a concern for experts. There appears to be at least some level of internal frustration, at least from second-year wide receiver Marquise Brown, whose postgame tweet highlighted his anger with not being more involved i the game plan Sunday.
Brown's tweet was ultimately deleted, but his grievance is now public.
For Holley, Jackson and the Ravens' struggles can be boiled down to the rest of the NFL learning how to play against such a unique combination of talent and scheme.
"Great season, MVP season, people weren’t ready for what he was bringing," Holley said about Jackson's 2019. "We’ve seen quarterbacks with speed before, but not quite that fast. And we’ve seen offenses built for quarterbacks like that, but not quite the way Greg Roman built his offense in Baltimore around Lamar Jackson. They just had it together."
Now that Jackson is no longer a new oddity, defenses around the league are making the necessary adjustments.
"Lamar was throwing it well last year too," Holley said. "I just think those guys, you have those supernovas that come into the league, the league adjusts. And now it’s chess. Now it’s his time. It’s his time to adjust to the adjustment. And that’s where he is right now, can he do it? I believe he can do it."
The two teams that have given Jackson the most fits in his young career are Kansas City and Pittsburgh, who just so happen to be the two teams at the top of the AFC race through the season's first eight weeks.
If the Ravens are going to get over the hump in the postseason, Jackson will likely have to figure out how to adjust to his two biggest competitors. And with the season nearly halfway done, he doesn't have much time to do it.