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Winning Without Style Points

Lamar Jackson v. Panthers
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Over his young career, Lamar Jackson has been one of the most dynamic and flashiest players in the NFL.

This year, he has sometimes taken on a new role — game manager. 

Over the past several games, Jackson has not put up his usual gaudy numbers, but the Ravens have won the games.

That’s a role that Jackson embraces.

“That’s November, December football, you just find a way to win to get in the playoffs,” Jackson said. “That’s what it’s all about right now. Some of them are going to be ugly, some of them are going to be pretty, but a win is a win.”

In Week 11 against the Carolina Panthers, Jackson and the rest of the offense managed just three points in the first half before the defense gave them a couple of short fields to put the game away 13-3. 

Jackson was inconsistent and was hampered by several drops by his wide receivers against Carolina. He completed 24 of 33 passes for 209 yards with an interception (76.5 QBR). Jackson also ran for 31 yards on 11 carries including a touchdown.

“We weren’t putting a lot of points on the board like we’re used to doing, and our defense just played lights out. I don’t know, did we have four [forced] turnovers? They just played lights out.” 

Opponents have stacked the box to take away the Ravens’ dominant running game, which is still without its top two playmakers — J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. They also play a lot of zone coverage to minimize Jackson’s targets downfield. It will be up to the offensive coordinator Greg Roman to make the necessary adjustments going forward because the Ravens will have to eventually put more points on the board. 

Teams are doing their due diligence on the Ravens on the days leading up to the game and the work is paying off. 

“They watched film; I can tell they watched film on it because sometimes they made great plays,” Jackson said about the Panthers. “Sometimes, it was iffy reads, no great reads right there, but I feel like they just played pretty good defense all around.”

Other players said some of the offensive struggles were partly because of some rust with the bye. The Ravens have an advantageous schedule the rest of the way, but the players vowed they won’t look past any opponent.

“Us coming off a bye, it was kind of a tough task to come out here,” running back Kenyan Drake said. “Obviously, we are home, but they were coming off a hard-fought win last week against the Falcons. They had a great scheme against us, especially against our zone read scheme. So, it was tough all game, but we made the plays when it mattered, and our defense bailed us out time and time again. So just excited about the three-facet game and complete team football we played today.”

On the bright side, the Ravens have shown they can win games even when Jackson does not have to put on the cape to save the day. It’s a beneficial turn of events that he does not have to always carry the team.

Jackson expects to play better in the coming weeks

“I feel like we played alright; we just have to put points on the board,” Jackson said. “It’s the NFL; sometimes it won’t be those high-scoring games. I don’t think we ever had a game where we scored this amount of points with a victory, but hopefully, it doesn’t happen like that for the rest of the season. Hopefully, we put points on the board like we’re used to doing.”

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