'Undercooked appetizer:' Ravens new-look offense looking to rebound from underwhelming debut

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After Sunday’s 25-9, season-opening win over the Houston Texans, Odell Beckham Jr. was asked whether the performance from the Baltimore Ravens wide receivers was like an appetizer for what could come this season.

“It was an undercooked appetizer,” Beckham said. “It was an ugly win.”

Beckham might as well been talking about the entire Ravens offense, which underwhelmed in the first game under offensive coordinator Todd Monken. All of the excitement surrounding this new-look offense was tempered by a sloppy and uneven effort.

Baltimore’s 265 yards were its second-fewest in a season opener in the 16-year John Harbaugh era. The only time the Ravens had fewer total yards in Week 1 under Harbaugh was 2015, when they managed 173 in the debut of offensive coordinator Marc Trestman.

“I feel like we had our up-and-down moments,” Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson said. "You can see where my ceiling would be, and then some moments, it’s like, ‘What were we just doing? What are we doing questioning ourselves out there?’ It’s the first game -- a little hiccup [the] first time we’re with each other on that field. I feel like the sky’s the limit though.”

It seemed like the Ravens kept stopping themselves with poor pass protection, penalties and turnovers. Baltimore’s offense was also limited by running back J.K. Dobbins suffering a season-ending Achilles injury and Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews not playing with a quadricep injury. Two starting offensive linemen — left tackle Ronnie Stanley (knee) and center Tyler Linderbaum (ankle) — are considered week to week and could miss Sunday's game.

The Ravens made the decision not to play their starters in any of the three preseason games because they wanted to make sure they reached Week 1 as healthy as possible. Right guard Kevin Zeitler said after Sunday’s game that it felt like the starters hadn’t played in the preseason.

"Week 1's always kind of like the wild west -- you never know what's going to happen,” Zeitler said. "The first half [was] pretty sloppy by any standards, but we got some things going in the second half a little bit.”

Here were the three areas of concern for Baltimore:

Pressure on Jackson: The Ravens allowed Jackson to get pressured on 12 of 31 dropbacks (39%), which became a major factor in the passing game. When the pass rush got to Jackson, he was 2-of-7 for 14 yards and one interception. When he wasn’t pressured, Jackson was 15-of-15.

Zeitler acknowledged the offensive line was “rusty” and described Sunday’s game as a “great wakeup call.”

Jackson scrambled five times for 37 yards, but the Texans felt he could have run more against them.

“We know he just got paid,” Houston defensive end Jonathan Greenard said. "So, he wanted to sit in the pocket as much as he could, more than he wanted to run. He was trying to stay in the pocket. It kind of worked to our advantage at times. We wanted to attack him going into the game, and him staying in the pocket, it made our job easier.”

Turnovers: When Jackson was intercepted on an underthrown pass at the Texans’ 15-yard line, it not only took points away from Baltimore, but it also extended a bad trend. In Jackson’s first three seasons (37 games), he threw 47 touchdowns and no interceptions in the red zone. In his last three seasons (25 games), Jackson has totaled 25 touchdowns and four interceptions inside the 20-yard line.

Jackson referred to that turnover as the “B.S. interception” after the game. He chalked it up to not playing since he had that season-ending knee injury on Dec. 4 and not playing in the preseason.

“We got the win [and we] just move forward [and] focus on practicing a little harder on the things we messed up on,” Jackson said.

Jackson later fumbled the ball, which led to a field goal for Houston. He’s not known for giving up the ball. This was the 10th time in 55 starts that he recorded multiple turnovers.

Penalties: Baltimore committed six penalties on offense, which tied the Carolina Panthers for most in Week 1. The Ravens were called for two false starts, an illegal motion, an illegal formation, an illegal use of hands and intentional grounding.

This has been an ongoing problem. Since 2018, the Ravens have totaled the fifth-most penalties on offense (252). Sunday marked the fifth time since the start of 2021 that Baltimore has been flagged six or more times on offense.

"It’s the first game; it’s a long season,” Beckham said. "I don’t think anybody [has] won a Super Bowl in Week One. So, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us."

"Just way, way too many penalties," Harbaugh said. "Too many times we took chips and we put them back in front of our opponent. We don't want to do that. We want to keep the chips, hoard the chips. That's what we refer to as winning football."