Posted on May 31, 2019, by Travis Pulver
The Baltimore Ravens looked like a pretty good football team with Lamar Jackson under center last year. In the seven games he started, they won six and lost the seventh in overtime (to the Chiefs). So, they were definitely more competitive with him than Joe Flacco last season.
Despite how well they played with Jackson at quarterback, oddsmakers still set Baltimore’s win total for 2019 at just eight games. But in light of some recent news, they may struggle to cover the over.
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti recently commented on what the team has in store for Jackson this coming season, via ESPN:
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“I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised that Lamar is not going to be running 20 times a game. That’s not what this offense is about.”
Ideally, what he said sounds great and should be just what fans want to hear. But no one likes to see a franchise quarterback miss time because of an injury. So, if the number of times he is hit can be reduced, that is (or should be looked upon as) a good thing.
He went on to say Jackson ran the ball so much last year because the team was just doing whatever it took to make the playoffs. But now that the offense has been tailored around him, they don’t think he will need to run as much.
In theory, that sounds great. However, there is just one problem—Jackson’s running was crucial to the team’s run in the second half of the season.
During his seven starts, he ran the ball an average of 17 times a game for 79 yards. His carries were crucial to the success of the run game that allowed the Ravens to control the clock for as long as they did. As a result, the defense was always well-rested, which made it easier for them to play even better.
However, when it came to his passing, it wasn’t great. He only threw for more than 200 yards just once (204; against the Chargers on December 22), and he only completed 54.5 percent of his passes in that game (12 of 22).
Their three longest pass plays (68, 20, and 18 yards) accounted for over half the yards.
His passing game was just what his detractors said it was prior to the draft—not good. But rather than make use of his legs next season like they did last year they are going to try to protect him more.
However, Bisciotti, says they have tailored the offense to him, including getting him some new, young receivers. But if the plan is for him to connect on short routes while they break tackles and go for significant gains, defenses are going to sniff that out and put a stop to it.
However, if they are looking to become more pass-oriented this coming season, they are going to struggle to cover the over on their win total—eight games (according to BetOnline.ag).
Jackson opened up the running lanes for the backfield, making it easier for everyone to gain ground in the run game. But without him running as much, those lanes are going to be tougher to open up. If they can’t control the clock with the run game, the defense is going to wear down. If they fall behind and be forced to pass, there is no reason to think they can do so well enough to win.
By announcing that Jackson is not going to run as much, Bisciotti made it tougher for his team to win games next season. Without a dominant run game, the Ravens are not going to play as well. They will be lucky to get six, let alone eight.
Take the under.