By Chris Schisler
The Baltimore Ravens take on the Denver Broncos in their second showdown with a good AFC West team. In round one against the AFC West, the Ravens took down the Chiefs in one of the most memorable Ravens games ever. Can this performance be as memorable? Here are three keys for the offense against the Blue and Orange.
1. Lamar Jackson needs help
Defensively, Denver is no joke. The Baltimore Ravens offense has to show up, the whole unit has to play as one. Against the Detroit Lions, Lamar Jackson had to carry the team on his back. Lamar had 31 passing attempts and chipped in 58 yards on the ground. In a game where it seemed like he had to do it all he was running for his life in the backfield and watching receivers drop passes. Jackson got sacked four times. When the most elusive quarterback in football gets sacked four times that’s the equivalent of 8 sacks for a normally gifted quarterback.
As a unit, the offensive line didn’t get the job done. It was the third game of the season and the second time that was the case. Jackson would have had well over 300 yards passing if it weren’t for drops. If the cast and crew around the Ravens MVP quarterback played better football, the Ravens would have had a blowout win. The Ravens cannot survive against the Broncos with miscues that plagued them last week. Quite frankly, the Ravens need their most mistake-free football from the offense in this one.
2. Ring the Bell:
See what I did there? Le’Veon Bell has been activated from the Ravens’ practice squad. That means we’re probably going to see the first bit of Bell with the Ravens. If nothing else it’s interesting. At this point, the Ravens just need to find a running back that gets the job done. With Ty’Son Williams it’s either great or horrible. Latavius Murray is serviceable but isn’t what he once was. Devonta Freeman isn’t horrible but he isn’t the answer. At this point, the Ravens have no reason not to try Bell out in the game.
If Bell can add anything extra at running back it would behoove this offense. The Ravens aren’t quite the Ravens right now. Losing J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards for the year was survivable and that’s clear. Let’s not pretend however we aren’t seeing the cost. They say running backs are a dime a dozen. Well when you have to replace three running backs right before the season, they aren’t that many good answers. Bell working out would be a very pleasant surprise.
3. Greg Roman calling the right kind of game:
Roman has a lot of responsibility in this game. He has to prevent Jackson from being in an unfair position. He has to keep going to the run game no matter what and he has to keep the Broncos pass rush in mind at all times.
Jackson showed that he could carry the offense with his arm against the Lions. That’s all well and good, but being pass-happy against the Broncos is the wrong call. The Broncos have a good pass rush and a good secondary. This game isn’t going to be easy. The Broncos have only given up an average of 162.3 passing yards per game and have the top defense in the NFL. Have they done it against weak competition? Absolutely. Weak opponents or not, they’ve shown off talent in the secondary and the pass-rushing department.
Through play-calling, Roman has the chance to protect his quarterback and give the offense the balance it needs to work against this defense. The moral of the story is if Jackson has to play hero ball against this defense it could lead to bad outcomes.