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“We Are a Running Team,” But…

Lamar Jackson runs against the New York Giants
Phil Hoffmann/Baltimore Ravens
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The Ravens inevitably will have a more effective passing attack this season.

The team has added more talented wide receivers and better pass blockers on the offensive line.

Quarterback Jackson is projected to have his best season as a passer, throwing for 3,790 yards with 29 touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Jackson threw for 3,127 yards with a league-leading 36 touchdowns in 201 in his first year as the full-time starter en route to being named NFL MVP. Last season, he had 2,757 yards passing with 26 touchdowns.

“We’ve been working – not just me,” Jackson said. “All the QBs and the receivers, we’ve been getting together and trying to make that a big emphasis for us this year. People are always saying we throw short, intermediate routes and stuff like that – little five-yard, 10-yard routes.”But we had some chances last year. We hit some of them, but we’re just trying to be more consistent this year, and that’s where the strides happen. It starts in practice, and hopefully, it transitions to the game. We’ve just got to keep working on it.”

While the Ravens will emphasize throwing the ball more effectively, they won’t stray too far from core offense that has led to three consecutive playoff appearances — running the football.

For the second consecutive year, Baltimore managed the league’s top rushing attack. The emergence of rookie second-round pick J.K. Dobbins and return of Gus Edwards gives the Ravens a formidable backfield.

Last season, the Ravens averaged a league-high 191.9 rushing yards per game and produced the third-most ground yards (3,071) in a 16-game NFL season.

The Ravens also had three players – Jackson (1,005), Edwards (723) and Dobbins (805)— rush for over 700 yards each.

The team is not going to apologize for winning games by dominating teams on the ground. 

“I think one of the things, as you think about the passing game, is we throw the ball a lot less than a lot of other teams do,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said. “That’s by design; we’re a running football team. People like to look at yards per game as a good metric of a passing game, and I think we threw the ball probably 150-160 times less than any other team did this year in the NFL. We are a running team.”

So, the Ravens will have more balance on offense than the previous three years. But if they find their rhythm in the running game, they are going to stick with it.

However, they need to have the potential to throw the ball downfield, especially in the playoffs. 

“We’ve spent the last two and a half years or so building, probably, one of the most creative run games in the history of the National Football League, to be honest with you,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I don’t want to overdramatize it, but it’d be pretty hard to argue against that. And probably the most successful. So, we’re certainly very happy about that, and now we want to bring that pass game along as well. It’s hard to do everything at once. 

“There are a lot of factors involved, and certainly personnel, to your point, is one of them. Certainly, execution, precision [and] reps. We didn’t have the reps last year in the offseason that we’re going to hopefully get this year.”

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