Ravens

Dungy and Harrison want to see Lamar, Ravens run more

Ravens

The Ravens' offensive identity revolves around their running game. It's what helped Lamar Jackson win an MVP award in 2019 and it's what vaulted them into Super Bowl contention. 

Baltimore can still run the ball effectively. They lead the league in total rushing yards and yards per carry and gained 265 yards on the ground against one of the best defenses in the NFL in a Week 8 loss to the Steelers. 

However, the Ravens may not be running the ball enough, especially against elite opponents. NBC Sports' Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison discussed Baltimore's offensive tendencies following the game Sunday on Football Night in America

"It seems like [the Ravens] are trying to force Lamar to become this passer that passes for 350 yards, 400 yards instead of just settling for who he is, running the football and playing good defense," Harrison said. "It almost feels like feel so confident in the run and they say, 'You know what, we can run the football, but what we're going to do in the midst of this game, we're gonna try to really open up our passing game.'"

Jackson had one of his worst passing games ever on Sunday. He completed only 46% of his passes for 208 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also lost two fumbles on the day. The Ravens' run game and defense did what they were supposed to do, but disaster struck too often when Jackson dropped back to throw. 

It's hard not to think about the Ravens' loss to the Titans in the divisional round of the playoffs last season as a reason for this trend. The Titans contained Baltimore's rushing attack and didn't allow Jackson to get free in the open field. 

 

 

Tennessee dared Jackson to beat them with his arm and he couldn't do it with Derrick Henry running all over the Ravens' defense on the other side of the ball.

Could it be possible that the Ravens are trying to work out this issue during the regular season so they're better equipped in the playoffs? Possibly, but as Dungy ultimately said, when the running game is working, don't go away from it. 

"We've seen it against Kansas City and we've seen it against Pittsburgh," Dungy said. "I think they think, 'We've gotta do a little bit more, we've gotta score more, we're going to have do something special,' instead of just doing what they do. They pounded the ball for 260 [yards], and had they run it a little more, they might have won the ball game."

The Ravens still have half the season to figure out their best method of attack on offense. The good news is, if they can't get the passing game going well enough to lean on it in the playoffs, Baltimore still has an elite running game and an even better defense than a year ago to turn to.