Don’t put this down as a prediction or anything, but Lamar Jackson might be just the kind of guy to take down teams like the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs, and it sounds like the Ravens are figuring that out.
Jackson is a new version of an old thing — the ball-control quarterback. That traditionally has meant player of limited talent who always hits the checkdown guy. But that doesn’t describe Jackson, really.
Jackson is a massively talented Heisman winner, it’s just that his talents are best used when he’s a big part of the running game, as he has been since taking over for Joe Flacco three weeks ago and turning around the Ravens’ season, which continues this week against Kansas City.
Baltimore is 3-0 with Jackson as the starter, pounding opponents on the ground and letting the league’s No. 1 defense take care of the rest. The Ravens have out-rushed their opponents 716-149 the last three weeks, with Jackson accounting for 265 of those rushing yards.
ESPN broke down how this is all working.
“It’s true the best defense is a good offense,” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. “Whether you’re scoring a lot of points or whether you’re eating up the clock, one or the other. The number of plays they are playing, the fact that they are fresh and well rested to get after people makes a big difference. That’s the kind of football we’re playing right now.”
With Jackson, the Ravens’ average time of possession has been 37 minutes, 20 seconds, which is 2½ minutes longer than any other team over that span.
In Sunday’s 26-16 win over the Falcons, Baltimore continued its trend of wearing down defenses and taking control after halftime. In the second half, the Falcons had the ball for only 5:55 and ran a total of 13 plays.
“I told the guys before that last drive,” Ravens safety Eric Weddle said, “‘We’ve been sitting down for 15 minutes, so we better have the energy. You better hit whatever you see these next few plays and let’s go win this game.'”
Atlanta doesn’t have an offense quite like Kansas City’s, but it’s still a top 10 unit that wound up with just 131 total yards against the Ravens.
As a passer, Jackson has been awful. He has a quarterback rating of 73.5 with three interceptions, two touchdowns, and an average of seven yards per attempt, which puts him near the bottom of the league.
But it just doesn’t matter, because the Ravens aren’t playing that game. They’re playing their own.
The Ravens were 4-5 when Jackson took over. They’re 7-5 now, and we’ll know a lot more Sunday about how realistic this plan is.