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Greg Roman Responds to Defenses Calling Out Ravens' Plays

Left: QB Lamar Jackson; Right: OC Greg Roman in 2019
Left: QB Lamar Jackson; Right: OC Greg Roman in 2019

Asked why things haven't looked as easy this season, Lamar Jackson responded Wednesday with comments that opposing defenses are calling out the Ravens' offensive plays before the snap.

"They're calling out our plays, stuff like that," Jackson said on "The Rich Eisen Show." "They know what we're doing. Sometimes stuff won't go our way if they beat us to the punch. … Like, 'run' and stuff like that. 'Watch out for this, watch out for that.' Sometimes that's what's going on."

On Thursday, Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman gave a detailed response.

He started with the fact that Jackson is a great competitor who wants to win at everything he does. It's been clear at times that Jackson has been frustrated with the offense's inconsistency. The Ravens rank 23rd in the NFL with 347 yards per game, but they also rank eighth in scoring (28.4 ppg).

"I define him as a winner," Roman said. "He only wants to win every game, every play, practice. That's what drives him."

Roman explained that this season has been a different for offenses without any (or many) fans in the stands. Defenders can hear everything a quarterback is saying, and they are looking for any clues.

Roman said Jackson does give him feedback about what defenses are saying at the line of scrimmage, and whether they seem to be sniffing certain plays out.

"With no fans in the stands, bands or music playing, you can hear a lot right about now – some of it I can't repeat," Roman said. "That's definitely part of what we talk about."

What's not new is defenders trying to guess offense's plays and relaying that information to their teammates.

"I can talk about Ed Reed and Ray Lewis on every play trying to guess what play you're going to run based on what they're seeing. That's the chess match," Roman said.

"They're going to be right sometimes and they're going to be wrong sometimes. I think we know that. But it's definitely an element of the game. It always has been and probably always will be."

This year, opponents do have more information on Baltimore's scheme. While the Ravens' revolutionary offense took the league by storm last season, leading the league in scoring and setting the NFL record for team rushing yards, opponents had all offseason to study. They have thrown more at Baltimore this season, and the Ravens continue to find ways to counterpunch.

"We work hard to change it up," Roman said. "We're very aware of our tendencies. We're aware that there are some right now. … When you're good at something and you can keep pressing that button, then you have the opportunity to flip the script at some point moving forward."

Despite the Ravens breaking the rushing record last year, they still lead the NFL in rushing with 170.1 yards per game this season. They're third in the league with 5.1 yards per carry, trailing only the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals.

So even if opponents have figured something out in regard to the Ravens' rushing attack, it hasn't been useful enough to stop it. That's exactly the way Roman wants it to be.

"If you're not good at anything, you have no tendencies," Roman said. "You really want to work to be good at everything. If you're in the best possible situation, you can do basic things very well and people still can't stop you. I think that's what you're striving to do."

Roman said Jackson does have the option to audible at the line of scrimmage on some plays, so if he felt like the defense knew what was coming, he could potentially change the play. The Ravens use their many formations and motions to try to diagnose what defenses are doing and react accordingly.

"Some quarterbacks have the freedom to audible every play. Sometimes that works out well, sometimes that doesn't," Roman said. "Some teams don't really do it at all. I'd say we're somewhere between there."

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