John Harbaugh Sends an Unapologetic Message About the Baltimore Ravens’ Offense
The Baltimore Ravens season came to an end against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Divisional round. Their season started rough, but they won their last five games to make the postseason. The Ravens’ offense has been why they have won and lost games in 2020.
The rushing attack is the Ravens’ bread and butter on offense. Some would argue they run the ball too much, needing to be more of a threat in the passing game. Head coach John Harbaugh couldn’t care less about what people have to say about his offense. He understands his personnel and isn’t apologizing for how Baltimore’s offense operates.
The Baltimore Ravens’ passing and running game are polar opposites
Reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson leads the Ravens’ offense. He is a unique talent, being a dual-threat quarterback with exceptional speed and elusiveness. Because of Jackson’s running ability, the Ravens have transformed their offense into a run-heavy unit. They use a variety of running schemes to put Jackson in space and pound teams on the ground.
The Ravens rushing attack is far above others in the NFL. They averaged 191.9 yards per game on the ground, the best in the league per ESPN. The next team is 23 yards below them. Baltimore had three people on their roster with over 700 rush yards this season. In 2019, they set an NFL record for most team rushing yards in a season with 3,296. Their run game is elite, but their passing game is the worst in the NFL.
Baltimore attempted a league-low 406 passes in the past two seasons, per ESPN. The team averaged 171.2 passing yards a game in 2020, dead last in the NFL. This was the first time since 2003 the Ravens finished last in passing. The Ravens lack a true No. 1 receiver, and Lamar Jackson still has a ways to go in terms of being a great passer. It’s a fact to say that the Baltimore running game and passing game are polar opposites.
In the divisional round, Baltimore only scored three points and couldn’t get anything going through the air. The lack of a passing game has been a talking point for Lamar Jackson and Baltimore critics since he became the starter. John Harbaugh is sick of hearing it and isn’t going to apologize for what the Ravens offense has become.
John Harbaugh isn’t apologizing for the Ravens’ offensive style
The Ravens have found success as a team despite the inability to have a consistent passing game. Lamar Jackson has led them to the playoffs twice and has a 25-7 regular-season record since being the full-time starter. John Harbaugh knows that his offense might not be the prettiest to look at, but it gets the job done.
“It goes back to the same criticism we’ve heard the last three years about not being the type of an offense or the type of a quarterback that some people want to see. They’re just going to have to live with it because Lamar Jackson has won a lot of football games here and our offense has won us a lot of football games here, and we’re not apologizing for that for one second,” said Harbaugh during his end-of-season news conference, per ESPN.
Harbaugh’s strong defense of his quarterback and his offense’s playstyle is expected but also meaningful. The criticism is going to continue, as the NFL is now a passing league. The Ravens are going against the grain because of the personnel they have. Harbaugh defending his offense will mean a lot to Lamar Jackson, Greg Roman, and others. They know the head coach supports their vision, which is crucial for a team’s confidence.
John Harbaugh isn’t going to change Jackson or his offense for anyone. However, he does see that there is some room for improvement, specifically at the receiver spot.
The Ravens need to get a No. 1 receiver in the offseason.
The top priority for Baltimore Ravens this offseason is to give Lamar Jackson a top target at the receiver. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is the current No.1 but doesn’t have the size needed to be a legit first option. He was the only wide receiver to have over 500 receiving yards last season. Harbaugh did admit that his team needs to get better through the air.
“We’re going to improve it, no question about it. We’re going to go to work to be more precise, more efficient, and better at what we do…I think a big, physical receiver would be awesome for us,” said Harbaugh.
There will be some talented receivers in the 2021 free agent class the Ravens can go after. Allen Robinson is the best impending free-agent, but Kenny Galloday, Chris Godwin, and Juju Smith-Schuster are other interesting options for Baltimore. The tricky part for the Ravens and any NFL team this offseason is budgeting under the shrinking salary cap. Will they be able to secure a top target and not kill their cap space?
The Baltimore Ravens love to run the ball, and John Harbaugh isn’t going to apologize for it. His strong message about the heavy-run offense should strike fear in the other 31 teams. If Baltimore can improve their passing attack and still be a lethal run team, they could turn into a juggernaut of an offense.
All stats courtesy of ESPN