Lamar Jackson and the Ravens running wild and free
Lamar Jackson is hands-down the most dangerous runner in football. The Ravens have a truly unique offense, as they decided to go all-in on the quarterback’s skillset, and the results have been impressive thus far. Jackson won MVP last season after running for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns. He was also the best statistical passer in the league, completing 66.1 percent of his passes for 3,127 yards, 36 touchdowns, and just six interceptions.
In the running game, Baltimore uses plenty of motion and misdirection to confuse defenses and get Jackson or the running backs into one-on-one situations. This Twitter thread from Alex Kirby does a great job showing some different ways that the Ravens like to beat teams. Whether it’s designed keepers, options, scrambles, up the middle, or around the edge, Jackson and the backs can run the ball against anyone.
And yet, as good as Jackson was throwing the ball in 2019, that’s still the weaker aspect of his game. He’s played in two playoff games, and both times was rendered ineffective as Baltimore was handily beaten. Jackson can absolutely beat teams through the air, but forcing him to do that is still the safer bet at this point.
When Jackson does throw the ball, he does it best over the middle past the first down marker. According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson completed 45 of 83 passes in that range for 1,114 yards, 17 touchdowns, and four interceptions in 2019, while earning a passing grade of 89.0 from 10-20 yards and 96.6 beyond 20. That’s the danger for the Browns linebackers and safeties; Jackson loves throwing to his tight ends over the middle, and Cleveland has no LBs who have proven to be even league-average in coverage.