When you used to talk about replicating the Ravens offense, throwing fifty times a game was a prerequisite. In the middle of last season, the Ravens did a complete 180. Due to Joe Flacco's hip injury the Ravens turned to a quarterback whose athleticism and skill set, hadn’t been seen in years in the NFL. The Ravens ran. And ran some more. Third and eight? How about a halfback dive. Fourth and twenty-nine? Four-yard pass to the running back sounds good. While the results speak for themselves both in 2012 and in 2018, with a Lombardi trophy and 6-1 run that brought the Ravens to the playoffs the Ravens knew they had to be able to throw the ball. So the Ravens changed offensive coordinators from Marty Mornhinweg whose go-to game plan is to call a minimum of 40 passing plays, to Greg Roman whose running attack has always been one of the best in the league.
To achieve their goal of “passing” the Ravens brought in veteran running back Mark Ingram. The Ravens also drafted a running back as well as two wide receivers. Lamar Jackson also has two fantastic tight ends in Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst (arguably the best tight end duo in franchise history). Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson also has veteran wide receivers Willie Snead, Chris Moore, and Seth Roberts. And don’t forget about training camp standout Jaleel Scott who has really turned some heads. This all adds up to playmakers around Lamar that Joe Flacco could only have dreamed of.
The Ravens unveiled an offense against the Packers, that while Lamar was on the field, called more passing plays than running. Lamar went 6-10 throwing the ball and he made throws into tight windows. His spiral, accuracy, consistency, touch, and just about every passing skill has improved from last season. But while Lamar was effective on offense, the Ravens’ and Lamar’s weakest point was paraded for the whole NFL to see.
Lamar is an amazing runner. He can make you miss on time able when he chooses. Lamar is classified as a running quarterback, but as the saying goes “running quarterbacks don’t run forever”. One of the best examples of this saying is Lamar’s backup, Robert Griffin the Third. RGIII was a very mobile quarterback who would routinely go running through NFL defenses until he got injured. By the Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. It started the end of RGIII’s career. Both RGIII and the Ravens want to make sure that Lamar never goes through that. To ensure that Lamar doesn’t get injured, Lamar needs to be running out of bounds and sliding. Lamar’s got the running, but avoiding hits has yet to come. I can’t remember the last time Lamar slid. He has run out of bounds but even in the Packers game, Lamar recognized man coverage and ran! It’s in August! No hit in August is worth the price for your franchise quarterback! Lamar could have thrown or slid. Instead, he ran.
This isn’t the first time John Harbaugh has had to teach a quarterback how to slide. When Joe Flacco was in town, Joe got hurt by sliding too high. It was so bad that former Orioles manager Buck Showalter texted Harbaugh asking him if he wanted help teaching Joe how to slide. While the problems with sliding are really the same, the idea of protecting your quarterback is crucial to NFL success.
The Ravens know that to be able to pass you have to have a healthy quarterback. The Ravens have been working on both passing and sliding. Both are crucial. There isn’t a point in passing if you can’t do it, and you can’t pass if you are injured. The Ravens recognize this. Lamar recognizes this. But it still needs to happen. We won’t know what changes will happen until the regular season, because it looks like Lamar won’t play until week one at the Dolphins.