Colts.com is starting a Q&A where each week, we will speak with a writer who covers the team the Colts are set to play that upcoming Sunday.
Week 3, the Colts are facing the Ravens in Baltimore. To gain more insight, we caught up with longtime staff writer for BaltimoreRavens.com, Clifton Brown.
Colts.com: It’s early, but what have been your early impressions on offensive coordinator Todd Monken and his offense compared to what the Ravens’ were the past few years?
Clifton Brown: The passing attack is the biggest difference. The Ravens are using the entire field, attacking defenses vertically and horizontally through the air, trying to get their playmakers the ball in space. Monken is also utilizing running backs more in the passing game.
Colts.com: In addition to Todd Monken, the Ravens also brought in new offensive weapons like Odell Beckham Jr., Zay Flowers and Nelson Agholor. How have you seen Lamar Jackson’s comfort with those players evolve from the offseason to where we are now?
Clifton Brown: It’s the deepest collection of receivers that Jackson has ever had. Talented receivers make any quarterback better, and Jackson currently has the highest completion percentage of his career. His comfort level with the new receivers seems to have come quickly. They’re getting open and he’s getting them the ball.
Colts.com: Leading up to the Draft and even afterward, many pundits have made comparisons between Lamar Jackson and Anthony Richardson. Do you see many similarities in their games?
Clifton Brown: The off-the-charts athleticism and ability to make plays with their legs are similar. Jackson is a natural leader and from a distance, Richardson also seems to have a personality that makes teammates gravitate toward him. I think that’s an important trait for quarterbacks.
Colts.com: Defensively, you all have looked good, despite Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey not yet being cleared for action. How do you feel like the secondary has performed in his absence?
Clifton Brown: The secondary has really stepped up without Humphrey, particularly Brandon Stephens who has played every defensive snap and played well. Former Colts cornerback Rock Ya-Sin had a solid game in Week 2 sharing snaps with Ronald Darby. Another key player missing from Baltimore’s secondary is safety Marcus Williams (pectoral), but Geno Smith had a huge interception against the Bengals last week and is filling in well.
Colts.com: I’d be remiss if I mentioned the defense and didn’t mention the linebacking tandem of Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen. What is it about those two that makes them so dangerous on the field?
Clifton Brown: They both have exceptional lateral speed, they are effective blitzers, they can drop effectively into pass coverage and they play every snap like it’s their last. Having two inside linebackers that versatile gives defensive coordinator (Mike Macdonald) multiple ways to disguise looks and confuse quarterbacks. Whether it’s Richardson or Gardner Minshew playing quarterback, preventing Smith and Queen from forcing turnovers or making plays that change the game’s momentum will be important.
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