Two concepts from 2019 could help Jackson regain his MVP form
The Ravens’ offseason strategy seems to pick up on some things from the past. They’ve stocked up on offensive talent to help Lamar Jackson, as well as open running lanes for their stable of running backs. They also rebuilt the tight ends room, drafting two on Day 3 of the 2021 Draft.
According to The Athletic’s Nate Tice, taking specific elements of the Ravens’ 2019 season could also return Jackson to his MVP form as a passer.
“Jackson simply devastated empty lineups in 2019,” Tice wrote. “According to TruMedia, no quarterback has generated more EPA from these formations since. The gap between Jackson in 2019 and the QB who produced the second-largest empty EPA in that span (Deshaun Watson in 2020) is almost the same as the gap between Watson and Matthew Stafford, 22nd, in his 2020 season.”
Tice compared the Ravens’ use of the empty roster in the 2021 season to the more successful 2019 season and offered a potential fix for the current season.
“Jackson can help himself by trusting other responses a play might have in these situations, and it’s up to offensive coordinator Greg Roman to present those responses,” Tice wrote. “Modern defenses have a better understanding of offensive rules than ever before; they want to the quarterback to get rid of the ball so they can tackle and force a punt. So quarterbacks (and play designers) need to have the confidence to hang on to the pocket and throw outside or more down, even with a potential free-running defender.”
Jackson versus man and blitz cover
“Defenders are traditionally hesitant to play one-man coverage against a quarterback who can use their legs effectively because it leaves them vulnerable to a quarterback run while defenders are more focused on their mission of coverage,” wrote Tice. “It can also make it easy for the quarterback to identify his best game and offensive defenses that way. Jackson absolutely shredded man coverage and blitzes during his 2019 season before falling back to earth. . hard in 2021.”
Once again, Tice compared the two seasons and came up with a solution for 2022. Part of it is just getting players back from injury.
“That’s where injuries to Ravens offensive players have had an effect on Jackson’s performance. Losing running backs hurts the running game and pass protection. Understanding the protection rules takes time,” wrote Tice. “The Ravens’ rotating distribution of receivers and tight ends has also continually suffered from improper route spacing that has left Jackson holding the ball with few appealing options. Jackson rightly doesn’t want to rip a ball in time when moving the road seems [poor].”
The 2019 season is something the Ravens seemed to keep in mind this offseason and Tice thinks using what was working then with new wrinkles in the scheme and a more improved quarterback could be the answer to a best attack this season.
“In 2022, it’s about how the Ravens can make Jackson’s life easier through scheme and pure health luck, and how Jackson can help himself with better timing and more design confidence. game,” Tice wrote.
NBC Sports‘ Peter King named Jackson one of the 22 most influential people of the 2022 NFL season.
“If Jackson remains healthy, I believe Baltimore will challenge Cincinnati for AFC North supremacy,” King wrote. “I also think there’s still a question about how much money the team should pay him in his next contract. Jackson, through four seasons, has been a wonderful regular-season quarterback and quarterback C-minus in the playoffs.”