Desperate times call for desperate measures.
That’s the only explanation for the decision by the Baltimore Ravens to switch up the offensive game plan on Sunday against the New York Jets to include a considerable dose of backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who was on the field for 12 of Baltimore’s 66 offensive snaps.
Lining up at both quarterback and wide receiver, Taylor’s presence on the field produced mixed results.
Let’s take a look at where the “Tyrod Package” worked, and where it didn’t.
Where it worked
Early in the game, the Jets took a little while to catch on to Baltimore’s use of Taylor.
His first run produced his biggest gain of the day.
On a simple read option, the outside linebacker commits to running back Ray Rice, giving Taylor an open lane.
By the time the Jets react to the play, Taylor is already well on his way toward the outside, and his speed allows him to get past the first wave of defenders.
He turns it up field, tiptoes the sideline, and finishes with a 17-yard gain on the play.
Keep in mind, this was in the first quarter, before the Jets had time to settle in with the frequently used Tyrod-led offense.
Later in the first half, Taylor uses his speed again to pick up a first down in a short-yardage situation.
Again, the read option works in Baltimore’s favor, getting the outside linebacker to commit to running back Bernard Pierce.
Taylor keeps the ball and bounces it to the outside, where his one man to beat for the first down is Jets linebacker DeMario Davis.
At this point, Davis has the advantage, and is perfectly in position to make a play before Taylor gains the two yards necessary for the first down.
Instead, Taylor again uses his lateral quickness to bounce to the outside and evade a Davis arm tackle, gaining three yards and a first down.
This play was in the second quarter, with the Jets still trying to adjust.
Where it failed
By the second half, the Jets weren’t foolish enough to fall for the Tyrod Package anymore.
In the third quarter, the Ravens use a simple read option play again with Taylor and Pierce.
The Jets – particularly defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson (circled above) – weren’t falling for it.
When Taylor decides to keep the ball, the play pretty much ends.
Taylor has nowhere to go, and his speed won’t give him an advantage this time.
Five Jets defenders against one ball carrier. Advantage?
Later in the game, the Ravens decided to get “creative” with Taylor, and the results were even worse.
Taylor begins the play lined up as a wide receiver.
Taylor comes around and receives a pitch from quarterback Joe Flacco, but before Taylor even has the ball in his hands, he’s already getting tackled.
Taylor is brought down for a loss on the play.
It appeared that the play may have been a designed pass for Taylor, as wide receiver Torrey Smith was running a go route down the right sideline.
Two problems: Taylor barely had time to gain control of the ball before he was tackled, and he isn’t a great passer.
The Ravens can use Taylor on occasion on run-based option plays if they work, but passing plays? Not the best idea.
Taylor’s one pass attempt on Sunday was ugly.
The play is another one that starts off looking like a read option.
Taylor keeps the ball, and with tight end Ed Dickson wide open, he throws to him in what was an obvious designed pass play, since Taylor barely even looks at Dickson before throwing the ball.
Dickson – who went untouched off the line – has a free lane up the seam.
A pass to Dickson in stride would get him past the second line of the defense and up the middle, gaining at least 15 yards on the play.
Instead, Taylor’s throw is near Dickson’s knees, forcing him to turn around and reach out for a pretty uncatchable ball.
Dickson drops the pass, and the chance for a big gain vanishes.
This shouldn’t be difficult for Taylor. It’s a simple short pass to a wide open tight end with little pressure in his face.
He rushed the throw, and aimed it instead of leading Dickson. Ed deserves a little blame here – he could have gone to the ground to corral the pass, but even if he had, the gain would have been significantly less than it should have, were the pass on the mark.
Throws like this aren’t uncommon for Taylor, and it’s no surprise the Ravens used him mainly as a run threat on Sunday. When on the field, he’s more of a running back than a quarterback.
Overall, the Tyrod Package worked in the beginning. But with how predictable the package was, it was easy for the Jets to catch on.
Moving forward, it’d be foolish to think this package can be a long-term staple of Baltimore’s offense. The occasional run play for Taylor such as the one against the Cincinnati Bengals is fine.
But 12 snaps or more in a game? No way.
The package can work at times, but it’s more of a gimmick than a legitimate fallback option.
Using it on Sunday was a low-risk option for the Ravens, as they dominated the Jets for 60 minutes and were never in danger of losing the game.
In close games, however, the best route is to keep Taylor on the sidelines, except for his one or two touches. I agree with Flacco, who said, “it’s good and fun for a little bit, but that’s about it.”
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