Lamar Jackson’s Playoff Struggles Won’t Change Ravens’ Offensive Game Plan
The Baltimore Ravens took a significant step forward in the 2019 campaign by putting together an impressive run to capture the best overall regular-season record. Lamar Jackson broke through with a historic year that saw him establish himself as one of the top players in the league. However, the Ravens‘ shortcomings in the playoffs have shifted the attention toward Jackson’s ability to replicate anywhere near his success last season. Head coach John Harbaugh has come out to voice what the team’s offense will look like in 2020.
Lamar Jackson’s remarkable 2019 season
In his second campaign, Lamar Jackson lifted off into stardom as he was the guiding force that pushed the Ravens toward tremendous success.
Jackson demonstrated to be more than a capable passer as he led the league with 36 touchdown passes to just six interceptions, first with an 81.9 quarterback rating, and held a 113.3 passer rating. He also proved to be a significant factor in the running game as he broke Michael Vick’s quarterback rushing record with 1,206 rushing yards.
Jackson’s ability running the ball helped make the Ravens the first team in NFL history to average more than 200 rushing yards per game. He was also the first player to notch at least 30 touchdowns passes and 1,000 rushing yards in a single season. All those factors made Jackson the clear-cut choice for the MVP award as he became the second player to be unanimously selected for the honor.
The Ravens’ disappointing loss on the divisional round of the playoffs against the Tennessee Titans shed light on Jackson’s needed areas of improvement.
Ravens won’t change for from run-heavy offense
Despite Lamar Jackson putting forth an incredible 2019 season, there are still plenty of detractors that look at him as a one-trick pony with his running ability.
That played a significant role in the Ravens’ offensive game plan being centered on the team’s dependency on the running game being the focal point of their offense. Head coach John Harbaugh has voiced that won’t be an aspect of the team that changes going into the 2020 campaign. (H/T ESPN)
“I wouldn’t say we’re going to scrap the run game and I wouldn’t say we’re going to become a more conventional offense — that’s the last thing we want to do,” Harbaugh said Thursday. “We didn’t change the offense to scrap the idea that we want to cause people problems. We just want to get better at taking advantage of weaknesses.”
Harbaugh has a clear vision that the Ravens’ offensive success from last year running the ball shouldn’t be changed from their playoffs shortcoming. That thought process was proven to be quite evident with the Ravens taking former Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins in the second round of this year’s draft.
There will be adjustments from Jackson and the Ravens, but it won’t be an offensive overhaul.
Lamar Jackson must step up as a passer
Lamar Jackson has arrived as one of the elite talents in the league, but the 2020 season will be a testament of the adjustments and improvements he and the Ravens have made.
Baltimore is going to stay with their identity as a run-first team, but the team’s overlaying success will lie with the reigning league MVP making improvements as a passer.
Opponents will utilize the effective game plan that the Titans had against Jackson that forced him to be a game-changer with his arm. It’s a part of his game that he’s faced the most criticism, and if he can become a highly efficient passer, it will add another element to his game that will make nearly impossible to game plan against him.
The Ravens’ ultimate success lies on Jackson’s shoulders, and that next step up in his development is quite evident.