Pundits Debate Whether Less Running, More Throwing Is Best for Lamar Jackson-Led Offense
Lamar Jackson did not mince words when talking about what he likes about Todd Monken's offense.
"Less running and more throwing," Jackson said at Wednesday's OTAs.
Not everyone agrees about that being a good thing. The topic was discussed on "Good Morning Football," and former linebacker K.J. Wright said it would be a mistake for Jackson to stop doing what makes him special.
"Lamar Jackson would be doing defenses a favor and the Baltimore Ravens a disservice if he has this 'I'm going to run less' mentality,'" Wright said. "He is probably the most dynamic football player speed- and quickness-wise that I have ever faced in my NFL career. This man is phenomenal, he's quick, and when you take off running against defenses, this just scares the life out of guys. When he gets in the open field, no one guy can bring down Lamar Jackson.
"He became the highest-paid player in NFL history by using his legs. He became league MVP by using his legs. And so he's going into this season with this mentality? I get it — you've been hurt, you've gotten injured. … Go down when traffic comes, but you are spectacular, you are dynamic. Use your legs because defenses cannot stand it."
Peter Schrager agreed, saying the Ravens shouldn't change a thing. Jason McCourty, however, said he could not disagree more.
"Lamar Jackson, 1-3 in the playoffs, and the main thing he said was this is what it's going to take to win," McCourty said. "I think he always could throw the ball and I think the offense was limiting his ability to get the ball down the field. As dynamic a player as he is, those runs will come instinctually. Plays break down, he'll make things [happen], and you'll have your one or two designed runs for him.
"Seeing Lamar throw the ball is going to make defenses scared as all get out because you know you have to prepare for his running ability. But if he's able to sit back there and dice you up with his arm, which I think he can do and which he will show this season, I think it will take the Ravens a lot further than they've been able to go in the playoffs."
To McCourty's point, it's not as if Jackson is never going to run the ball. All Jackson said was that he is going to run less than he has in the past. He's averaged about 11 rushing attempts per game.
It's important to remember that in Jackson's MVP season in 2019, he led the league in touchdown passes in addition to setting the single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback.
Jackson Ranked Eighth-Best Quarterback by NFL Network Analysts
Jackson and the Ravens' new, less run-heavy offense also was discussed on the "Move the Sticks" podcast, as NFL Network analysts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah took turns in ranking the top 10 quarterbacks.
Brooks selected Jackson at No. 8. He and Jeremiah said they didn't rank Jackson higher because of the unknown of how he will perform in the new offense.
"I have a lot of faith in Lamar Jackson," Brooks said. "I remember how he played at Louisville, and everyone talked about the back to back years when he had over 1,500 rushing yards, but in Bobby Petrino's system he put up a bunch of numbers and a bunch of points.
"Eventually Lamar Jackson had to graduate to an offense like this if he's going to be able to play at a high level at the end of the deal that he just signed. So the challenge will be, can Lamar Jackson meet the expectations that the Ravens have for him to grow and make all these things happen as a passer? I'm going to say he's able to do it. Even though we didn't put him in the top five, some if that is because of 'let's see what this offense looks like.'"
Another takeaway from Brooks and Jeremiah's list is that the Ravens will play seven games against quarterbacks ranked in the top 10. They'll face No. 2 Joe Burrow and No.10 Deshaun Watson two times each, in addition to No. 3 Justin Herbert, No. 7 Trevor Lawrence, and No. 9 Matthew Stafford.
Kyle Hamilton Named a Breakout Candidate
Coming off an impactful rookie season, safety Kyle Hamilton was named one of five candidates to break out in 2023 by Sportskeeda’s Ethen Hutton.
"Following last season, Baltimore moved veteran safety Chuck Clark in a trade to the Jets, as they will look to move Kyle Hamilton to more of a traditional safety role," Hutton wrote. "Hamilton's versatility is part of what made the Ravens select him 14th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, and he will surely still be used all around the field. Giving these opportunities to a player with so much upside potential will be crucial for Kyle Hamilton's development and a step forward for the Ravens' defense."
Hamilton said during his recent appearance on "The Lounge" podcast that he’s confident he can flourish in his new role.
"I feel like I can slide into that role for sure and perform at a high level," he said. "I feel like that's what the Ravens drafted me for and that's what I'm here for, and I feel like I can definitely produce."
Two Ravens Ranked Among Top 20 Offensive Tackles
The Ravens have a solid offensive line, and left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right tackle Morgan Moses are two reasons why.
Pro Football Focus ranked the top 32 offensive linemen, and Stanley came in at No. 12, while Moses was No. 20.
"On his best day, Stanley is one of the most natural pass protectors in football, allowing just 10 total pressures on 543 pass-blocking snaps back in 2019," PFF's Gordon McGuinness wrote. "It's been a long road back from injury for the former sixth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He missed the bulk of the 2020 and 2021 seasons, but he looked close to being back to his best after returning to the field in Week 5 last season.
"While the down-to-down consistency isn't always there with Moses, he was a dependable pass blocker for the Ravens over the course of the 2022 season and had some huge games as a run blocker, including three outings with a 90.0-plus PFF run-blocking grade."