OWINGS MILLS, Md. — When Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson take the field on Sunday, they’ll set an NFL record before either one takes a snap from under center.
The matchup pits the two second-year quarterbacks against one another in the NFL’s best matchup for rushing quarterbacks in history.
The biggest difference, however, is how those yards have been reached. Jackson’s speed and acceleration is something the league hasn’t seen before, and while Allen can move, it’s not just his moves that make him difficult to bring around.
“He’s a big kid, man, he’s like tackling a tight end scrambling,” Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale said. “It’s going to be a great challenge. So we’ll see what happens on Sunday. He makes a lot of plays on his feet, that’s been their success the last five, six weeks.”
At 6-foot-5, Allen has been a problem for opposing defenses to bring down all season. He’s rushed for 430 yards (third-best for quarterbacks) and eight touchdowns (tied for sixth in the NFL).
“It's not like he's a pipsqueak or anything like that,” Josh Bynes said. “He's a big, solid quarterback, and he runs like a running back. That makes it a little bit more challenging, because he's a quarterback, as well. So, we just have to make sure we wrap up and we bring our pads with us and bring our feet and just make sure we get him to the ground.”
Allen’s size has made him a tall-task for defenses, which plays out in a deeper dive of the numbers.
According to Pro Football Reference, Allen ranks 22nd in the NFL in yards before contact at 2.2. Jackson ranks first at 4.8 yards.
But Allen averages 2.4 yards per rush after contact, 13th in the NFL and first for quarterbacks.
“When you watch him, he can run and move around,” Chuck Clark said. “He’s more elusive than what people would say or think. He can definitely get out the pocket, extend the play and run the ball himself. They’ve got a solid offense, they’re effective at what they do.”
Allen rushed for 631 yards last season in 12 games — the same amount as he’s played so far this year. He’s gotten better as a passer from a year ago, having improved his completion percentage, yards-per-attempt and touchdown-to-interception ratio.
But while his big-time arm is something the Ravens are still focused on, it’s Allen’s legs — and size — that pose an extra dimension to his game that can be dangerous for the Ravens.
“You just have to be fundamentally sound and make sure you wrap him up, drive your feet if possible,” Michael Pierce said. “With the penalties, you have to be very careful. But he's a physical dude, big, 6-4 guy, so yes, you have to be fundamentally sound and bring your pads with you.”
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