In his last four games, the Ravens wide receiver has caught eight passes out of 21 targets for 91 yards and zero touchdowns. That’s a far cry from his first seven games when he had 28 receptions for 558 yards and four touchdowns.
Brown still leads the offense in receiving yards (649) and touchdown catches (four), but he acknowledged before Wednesday afternoon’s practice that the drop in production has been irritating.
“When I sit back and think about it, November has kind of been like a down month for me,” he said. “I feel like I haven’t been making the plays that I made in September and October. It’s just due to the fact of teams with their schemes and not getting many opportunities. But I think we’ve got something in the plan.”
Brown’s recent stretch could be linked to a shift in the team’s offensive strategy. Since rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson replaced injured starter Joe Flacco against the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 18, Jackson has averaged 22 passes in his two starts compared to 42.1 throws for Flacco.
But Brown said Jackson’s presence under center has actually forced opposing defenses to abandon schemes of bracketing and doubling him they had been using in the past to limit his explosiveness.
“With Lamar being in, teams have been giving me the one-on-ones,” he said. “We just haven’t been taking advantage of the opportunities.”
Brown finished with one reception for 25 yards in Sunday’s 34-17 victory over the Oakland Raiders, but dropped a potential catch and had a 48-yard reception in the fourth quarter wiped out by a holding penalty on rookie right tackle Orlando Brown Jr.
“If you don’t have the penalty, he would probably be more productive,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He had a couple shots. I’m sure ‘Smoke’ [Brown’s nickname] would like to have a few of those. They were tough, maybe tough catches, but he makes those a lot of times. … So I’m not too worried about it, but I agree that he’s a guy we want in there. We want him making plays. The deep stuff is something that he can excel at and the crossing routes and those kinds of things. We want Smoke to be a big part of it.”
Jackson assumed some responsibility for not getting the ball to Brown.
“Oh, man,” Jackson said as a reporter mentioned the called-back throw to Brown, shaking his head. “We’re good. There was a lot of passes I felt I should’ve got to him, put it on him [so] he can get more receptions, [more] involved, instead of just targets. So we’re going to work hard in practice, and we’ll try to execute in-game.”
Brown admitted that back-to-back wins have helped take the bite out of any exasperation on his part about his recent performances.
“It’s frustrating, but at the end of the day, when you’re winning, it’s fine,” he said. “When we were losing, I would be even more frustrated. But as long as we continue to win, that doesn’t matter.”