Ravens

Ravens

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Greg Roman made note that it wasn’t him who added the ‘Heisman’ package to the Ravens playbook, but rather the players. And more specifically, he joked, it was Robert Griffin III.

Sunday in Cincinnati, the Ravens lined up in a split-backfield shotgun set, with Griffin lined up to Lamar Jackson’s left, and Mark Ingram to Jackson’s right. The personnel group became known as 'The Heisman Package.'

The play was a triple option, where Jackson faked the hand-off to Ingram and ran right, only to pitch the ball to Griffin. The right side of the field was wide open, as Griffin gained 12 yards and a first down on the play. 

The formation was likely the first time in NFL history — there is no official record of it happening before — that three Heisman Trophy winners lined up in the same backfield, on the same play. At least, that's what they're telling themselves.

“That was kind of spawned by the players, I don’t want to say who recommended it... (coughs) RG3,” Roman joked. “But that was a great idea and it really came from the players. That play was certainly in our system, we just injected a little variation to it.”

Griffin made the idea seem more of a group effort and said that all three had a part in adding that particular play to the playbook.

“We were just talking, me Mark and Lamar, we don’t think anybody has ever had three Heisman’s in the backfield and run a play like that in NFL history,” Griffin said. “I’m not sure if that’s accurate or not, (but) we felt like it was a moment for us to be legendary.”

 

The play, which was already in the Ravens’ playbook, simply added a new wrinkle by putting Griffin into the backfield with Ingram and Jackson.

Griffin won the Heisman Trophy in 2011 with Baylor, Jackson won it in 2016 at Louisville and Ingram won it in 2009 at Alabama. The trio wanted to make history, and that’s where the idea was hatched. 

“We had it in like the past week or two, we’ve been telling G-Ro that we need to put it in,” Ingram said. “He called it during the game and it was pretty cool to be the first team with three Heisman winners in the backfield at the same time, running a play. Hopefully, we can expand it.”

The Bengals’ defense, which allowed 35 offensive points as is, had no idea how to react when the Ravens put two quarterbacks on the field. 

“They didn’t know what to do," Griffin said. "I don’t know if they could’ve reacted any better for us, the way the play worked out, getting a first down and getting an 11-yard gain. Teams will be aware of it now, we can use that to our advantage and do all kinds of things out of that package.”

The clear variation, though no one would elaborate on it, is to present the option for Griffin — a quarterback — to pass the ball. Or even a simple hand-off to Ingram adds that much more variety, simply because of the personnel package the Ravens use. 

“I can’t snitch,” Griffin said of the play’s expansion with a smile. “The possibilities are endless.”

Baltimore will likely use the play, after its success, more in the future with potentially a few more wrinkles available.

But if they’re ever able to get into the endzone with all three Heisman winners on the field, the celebration has already been planned. And it’s not hard to figure out what it is.

“You know what the celebration gonna be,” Ingram said, grinning ear-to-ear. “Use your imagination for that.”

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