Talk of Ravens’ Offensive ‘Revolution’ Continues to Heat Up
You say you want a revolution, Ravens fans? Well, the debate about whether the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson-led offense will revolutionize the NFL continues to heat up.
It all started with a story about Jackson in The Athletic, in which Head Coach John Harbaugh said this:
Count NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks among those who believe the Ravens are changing the game.
“I believe they’re building a triple-option system that they’re going to unleash on the NFL, and if it works, man it could be a game-changer,” Brooks said on FoxSports Radio.
Brooks went on to contend that the Ravens’ innovative offense “actually could change the economic model when it comes to building a team.”
“Considering the collegiate nature of the Ravens' scheme, the team's player-acquisition strategy could resemble a Power Five school's recruiting approach at the quarterback position,” Brooks wrote. “Baltimore could take athletic quarterbacks early in the draft with the idea of playing them on a cheap rookie deal for four or five years before drafting another to replace him at the end of the deal.”
While that seems far-fetched, Brooks’ speculation is an illustration of how the Ravens’ outside-the-box offense is sparking conversation about what it all means.
“[A Ravens] assistant told me that basically they want to reverse the running game trend,” Clark said. “They want in two years people to be writing that the Ravens changed the way we look at running backs and just the running game in general.”
When Clark’s co-host Robert Mays questioned whether it’s the right plan, Clark replied: “It’s the right plan if you have Lamar Jackson and that team right now. … They’ve built the best team around Lamar Jackson they can probably build at this point in the curve.”
Brooks also believes the Ravens are wise in tailoring the offense to Jackson rather than vice versa.
“With a full offseason to game plan around the former Louisville star as the team's starter, the Ravens are not only poised to fully unleash their electrifying young QB1 on the football world but they're preparing to do it in a manner that's eerily similar to the way he torched the collegiate landscape en route to the Heisman Trophy,” Brooks wrote.
“You undoubtedly enhance your chances of winning by putting your QB1 in his comfort zone,” Brooks added. “This is what old-school coaches have done with pocket passers throughout the years, and it's the way sharp offensive coordinators operate today when they fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of their quarterbacks.”
The Ravens’ offense also was discussed on the “Pardon the Interruption” podcast.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be revolutionary, but I can’t wait to see it,” PTI’s Israel Gutierrez said.
After PTI’s Frank Isola brought up the Ravens’ struggles on offense in the playoffs last season and said “the NFL is still about who can throw the ball,” Gutierrez replied: “You know [Jackson] didn’t start until later in the season. He didn’t have an offseason. He says he’s throwing spirals a lot better. I want to watch this. I think he can be Steph Curry-like in the NFL. You think you can’t win shooting threes. You think you can’t win with a running quarterback. You can win with a running quarterback.”
Even TribLive’s John Steigerwald, a longtime Pittsburgh media member, is excited about the Ravens offense. In fact, he went so far as to write that he’s rooting for the offense to succeed.
“Steelers fans and quite a few in the media like to dismiss the Ravens because they have a running quarterback and their coach, John Harbaugh, said he plans to revolutionize NFL offenses with Lamar Jackson,” Steigerwald wrote. “Did I mention that they finished 6-1?
“You’ll have to excuse me for rooting for the Ravens offense to succeed. All NFL fans should if they’re tired — which they should be — of the league’s dink-and-dunk offenses. Give John Harbaugh credit for having the guts to try something different.”
Earl Thomas Ranked Best Safety in NFL by PFF
Ravens safety Earl Thomas III enters the 2019 season as the best player at his position in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
The six-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro had an overall grade of 91.3 and coverage grade of 90.6 last year with the Seattle Seahawks before suffering a season-ending injury (lower leg fracture) in Week 4.
“He showed he can still play at an elite level nine years into his NFL career and should only pick up where he left off in Baltimore if he can stay healthy,” the PFF analysis team wrote. “Among the 70 NFL safeties with at least 2,000 snaps played in the last five years, Thomas ranks first in overall grade (93.6) and coverage grade (97.2). He’s one of the very few free safeties who have dominated as a standalone center fielder in the NFL, a rare talent by all measures.”
Thomas impressed “The Ringer NFL Show’s” Clark during his visit to Owings Mills.
“Earl Thomas, if he stays healthy, is probably a signing we’re not talking nearly enough about,” Clark said.
As one can see from the quotes above, the phrase “if he can stay healthy” has been used frequently in regard to Thomas this offseason, but as Clark observed: “Earl Thomas looks really good. That’s the bottom line with that story.”
Clark’s point about the Ravens’ acquisition of Thomas flying under the radar also was made by our own John Eisenberg last month. He attributed it to all the excitement surrounding Jackson and the Ravens’ rebuilt offense, as well as the fact that Ravens fans are used to seeing Hall of Fame-caliber defensive players on the team.
“Thomas is right at the top of my list of Ravens I’m anxious to watch in 2019,” Eisenberg wrote. “The intensity and purposefulness Thomas brings to the job are already evident around the Under Armour Performance Center, but no doubt, the best of him is yet to come. In my book, it qualifies as must-see football.”
Thomas said in his recent sit-down interview with ESPN’s Josina Anderson that he has no issue with it if his signing has been underplayed.
“That’s how I like it,” Thomas told Anderson. “Let me sleep under the radar and just surprise everybody.”
Praise for Ed Reed’s Bust is Booming
There were a lot of great takeaways (see what I did there?) from Ed Reed’s Hall of Fame induction weekend, but one of the lasting images undoubtedly will be of Reed’s bust. Talk about a spot-on likeness.
Reed’s bust looked so much like him that it was almost freaky. I half-expected the bronze sculpture to break out a rendition of “Two Tickets to Paradise.”
Deadspin’s Gabe Fernandez wrote that Reed’s bust deserves its own Hall of Fame.
“The bar for accuracy on these kinds of things are pretty low, as not even one of the world’s most famous athletes could have his done right, but … whoever makes these really nailed it with this one,” Fernandez wrote. “The eyes look like they’re facing the same direction, all of Reed’s facial features appear to be in the right place and, most importantly, the hair — both on his face and on the top of his head — is absolutely immaculate.”
Reed’s bust created a frenzy on social media.