Striking A Balance Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens

Street Talk Striking A Balance

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The Ravens talked about having a more balanced offense throughout the offseason.

While the running attack was expected to be among the best in the NFL, the national media still questioned whether Lamar Jackson could beat a team through the air … until the game against the Broncos. 

Denver was determined to shut down the Ravens run game, so Jackson beat the Broncos over the top, throwing for 316 yards with a long touchdown to Marquise Brown in the 23-7 victory.

The Ravens amassed 406 yards and 23 points against a Broncos defense that was one of the stingiest in the NFL entering the game.

“When we watched film, we watched the linebackers really give it away how close they are,” Jackson said. “When at the line of scrimmage, the linebackers were right behind the defensive line, so they wanted to stop the run. We watched it on film over and over again. We knew we had to beat them with these kinds of passes and these types of play calls, and we did.”

Baltimore improved to 3-1 on the season and might be the most impressive team in the AFC. If the Ravens can continue to strike that balance between running and throwing the football, they will be incredibly difficult to defend.

The Ravens are ranked fourth in the NFL with 420 yards per game after four weeks.

The running attack fell from first to third after running for 102 yards against the Broncos, but it’s still formidable.

The Ravens had to overhaul their running backs room when J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill each suffered season-ending injuries in training camp. 

As a result, the Ravens brought in Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, and Le’Veon Bell.

All three of those players were active against the Broncos with Murray getting the most work with 45 snaps and led the Ravens with 59 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown. 

The Ravens made a surprise move when they decided to deactivate running back Ty’Son Williams, who leads the team with 6.1 yards per carry. Coach John Harbaugh said the team is still getting a feel for its running backs.

“It was just hard because we have got four guys who are very deserving—I just wanted to give guys a chance,” Harbaugh said. “Those guys are all happy for each other when they do well and when they get an opportunity. We had to go some route, you know, so which route are we going to go? 

“We pulled the young guy back. It’s just kind of a decision—it wasn’t anything other than that. We just have got to figure out what we’re doing going forward after watching the tape and see how they all fit together. We’re figuring that out for ourselves right now.”

The Ravens are still going to be a running team, but opponents must respect the passing game 

Jackson has made tremendous strides throwing the ball this season. The wide receivers are much improved with Sammy Watkins, Devin Duvernay and James Proche capable of making big plays.

The Ravens expect first-round pick Rashod Bateman back in the lineup perhaps this week, which will give Jackson another weapon at wideout.

Harbaugh said that Jackson has silenced all of his critics thus far this season. 

“The pass protection, especially the play-action pass protection, was excellent,” Harbaugh said. “So, it was a group effort. Lamar made some throws. The throws outside the numbers, those deep-out throws that a lot of people are saying Lamar can’t throw – obviously, he’s proven them wrong on that. And the downfield throws – he hit those throws. 

“And you know Lamar, I know Lamar; the way he [is], he’s going to look at the tape and see the one or two he didn’t hit, and he’s going to be mad about those two, which you appreciate. So, those guys have done a great job; they work hard. We’re getting stronger in that room, as you know. So, I’m excited about that group.”

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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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