Between him and former MVP Lamar Jackson, the Ravens were fielding a rushing attack that many projected to finish atop the NFL in 2021. However, following Dobbins’ devastating season-ending injury that he recently suffered, the Ravens’ offense has their work cut out for them, finding a way to fill the void.
J.K. Dobbins suffered a season-ending knee injury during the preseason
Dobbins was a second-round pick for the Ravens last year, and he wasted little time during his rookie season announcing his presence to the rest of the NFL.
The former Buckeye finished 2020 with 925 total scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns. He also averaged 6.1 yards per touch — an impressive average for a first-year running back.
The Ravens are notorious for their “running back by committee” approach to the ground game. Four different RBs saw carries in 2020, while Jackson actually led the team in total carries with 159. The Ravens had a terrifying ensemble of runners to throw at opposing defenses between Jackson, Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Mark Ingram.
While Dobbins trailed Edwards in total carries last year, the general expectation heading into the offseason was that Dobbins would be assuming RB1 duties this year. He flashed enough potential during his rookie campaign to justify such a role increase, and he’s three years younger than Edwards.
With Dobbins now set to reportedly miss the entirety of the 2021 season, the Ravens find themselves in a tricky position. They have a respectable amount of depth at the RB position. Jackson is also the best running QB in the league, but losing one’s RB1 is never something teams can appropriately prepare for. Such a loss could spell major trouble for the Ravens moving forward.
How can Lamar Jackson and the Ravens compensate for the loss of J.K. Dobbins?
First and foremost, Edwards is going to have to step up. The Ravens’ running back room includes Nate McCrary, Ty’Son Williams, and the before-mentioned Hill, but Edwards is the main guy worth keeping an eye on.
Edwards has run for at least 700 yards during his three seasons with the Ravens and has 10 career touchdowns to his name. He’s nowhere near as explosive or athletic as Dobbins, but he’s a serviceable option for a team with an elite offensive line.
Secondly, Jackson is going to have to churn out a special year on offense.
Jackson took a minor step back in 2020 following his MVP season in 2019, but he’s still been one of the most productive QBs in the NFL since debuting.
The Ravens QB is 30-7 as a starter and already has 87 career touchdowns (passing and rushing). Jackson would have a strong year with or without Dobbins, but his job definitely got harder following the recent injury news. Jackson stepping up and “recreating” his MVP season would save the Ravens’ offense.
The Ravens should — in theory — be okay
Losing one’s starting running back during the preseason is a complete and utter disaster, but the Ravens should — in theory — be able to manage. As previously highlighted, they have a deep running back room, and Jackson is a nightmare for opposing defenses by his lonesome.
However, that doesn’t mean life in Baltimore didn’t just get considerably more challenging. If Edwards and Jackson can’t step up in Dobbins’ absence, the Ravens will be in trouble.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.