The X’s and O’s Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens

Street Talk The X’s and O’s

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Lamar Jackson and the Ravens ran over opponents throughout last season.

Coach John Harbaugh even admitted they might have taken some teams by surprise. 

“Going into our season last year, we were the iceberg,” Harbaugh told season ticket holders on a conference call. “Ninety percent of what we were going to be capable of was still underwater and people hadn’t seen it yet. Starting next year, we’re not going to be the iceberg. People are going to see us. We’re going to be everybody’s most important game.”

The key now is staying one step ahead and the coaches need to make sure they put Jackson in position to continue his successful run. 

Last season, Jackson became just the second player to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player by a unanimous vote, joining Tom Brady in 2010.  Over his first two seasons, Jackson has thrown for 4,328 yards with 42 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has also run for 1,901 with 12 touchdowns. 

Teams have plenty of film on Jackson and they’ll try to make the necessary adjustment, namely stacking the box and making him beat them with passes downfield.

Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman admitted the abbreviated season will be a challenge. He contends the team will have to be selectively implementing a game plan because the ongoing challenges with the coronavirus have significantly cut into offseason practices.  

“We kind of have our internal process every year,” Roman said. “We get rid of this; we might add something. There are some things that we practiced last year that we didn’t actually run in games, so we really wanted to evaluate all that,” Roman said. “I think we’ve definitely tweaked things. We haven’t had the luxury of the OTAs and whatnot, to really kind of test-run certain things, so we have to be really judicious with how we use that time in training camp to experiment. I think experimenting this year is going to be very selective. 

“So, yes, definitely we’ve tweaked, we’ve added, updated, but how much we experiment in training camp, we’re really going to have to be selective with that.”

Jackson will be an even more experienced quarterback entering his third year. Nonetheless, he’ll be hard-pressed to top last season, in which he threw for 3,127 yards and led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes en route to being unanimously named MVP. Jackso also ran for 1,206 yards — sixth-best in the league and the most by a quarterback in NFL single-season history.

Still, there is plenty of room for improvement, according to Roman. 

“There are certain things we want to work on and emphasize more – throwing the ball in different parts of the field, for example,” Roman said. “But we are always going to try to be aware of and push the envelope in all those different areas to try to get those bar graphs moving up. 

“And then when the game rolls around, we are going to do what we’re good at and what we want to do. As part of his development, chase to being great and chase to improve, you’re working on all these things all the time. So, I don’t know that I would say it’s one thing, but everything.”

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Todd Karpovich

About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich

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