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Baltimore Ravens: How to get the offense rolling again

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens have lost Marlon Humphrey for the year. The Ravens secondary in general is an injury-stressed place and the offense is going to have to score more points without their Pro Bowl corner. The offense needs to score. It’s an absolute need against teams like the Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Los Angeles Rams. The Ravens needed 21 points to beat the Steelers last Sunday and didn’t get it.

With that in mind let’s take a look at how the Baltimore Ravens can get the offense going. Let’s look at the problems in three segments: Lamar Jackson, Greg Roman, and the offensive line. These are the three major drivers of what is hurting the Ravens. The quarterback, the play-caller, and the offensive line are the key factors in turning everything around. So let’s start with the player who touches the football every play.

Lamar Jackson:

This may be an unpopular answer, but Lamar Jackson just needs to snap out of it. Jackson is stuck in his head and it’s affecting the way he sees the field. The Lamar Jackson from the Ravens’ thrilling wins and the Jackson of the past several weeks are effectively two different players. We’ve been over that already though. We’ve diagnosed the problems earlier this week. Now we have to look for solutions.

The first fix for Jackson is to change the metabolism of the game. The Ravens should use a high-tempo offense. They should get to the line of scrimmage quickly. The Ravens have been comeback kings, they even mounted a last-minute drive against the Steelers that would have tied up the game if John Harbaugh made a different decision. It may sound a little simplistic, but this team only seems to do well when they have a sense of desperate urgency. Simulating that with tempo isn’t a bad idea.

More importantly, it could get Jackson out of his head. The Ravens need to get him rolling out of the pocket by design a little more, play fast and encourage Jackson to take off and run the football. When Jackson is in the zone he’s a stone-cold killer of NFL defenses. Spark Jackson.

Jackson needs a mindset change. He can’t always be trying to make the big play. He has to go through his progressions and make the short pass that’s there when the deep shot isn’t available. Jackson needs to see the whole field. He needs to go back to being a point guard style of quarterback. He is responsible for creating big plays, but his ultimate responsibility is to make the right decision and distribute the football to players with green grass in front of them.

Greg Roman:

If Jackson’s job is to change his mindset and spark himself by taking what the defense gives him, Greg Roman has the responsibility of putting Jackson in the best situation. That means calling a game for tempo rather than huddling. That means calling plays with check-downs and easy completions to get up his confidence. When Jackson is struggling and frustrated, call a designed run. Running the football is the one thing Jackson can do in any state of mind. Jackson wakes up when he realizes he’s a dual-threat. Roman has to understand that fact when calling the game.

If I was Roman I would call plays that simplify things for Jackson until the rut is gone. I’d try to lean more on the ground game which would maximize the play-action passing game for Jackson. Roman also needs to avoid getting too cute with it. Think about the two-point try. T.J. Watt was a problem off the edge. Think about the overtime interception against the Vikings. Jackson couldn’t get the ball over an edge defender on a play that clearly needed him not to be there. This is actually a pattern on less prominent plays as well. Roman needs to do a better job factoring in edge rushers in his play-calling.

Any creativity that Roman has left, this is the time to pull it out. If there’s some magical vault of plays he has at the ready this is the time to go to the bag. Roman has to bring some fun into this offense. Whether that means using Devin Duvernay in creative ways out of the backfield or coming up with some trick plays, now is the time. The Ravens have been miserable to watch. Part of the reason that is true is that they’ve seemed tense and frustrated on the field. Mixing things up is a great idea right now. The status quo has become the worst part of the offense.

The offensive line:

The offensive line has to put their best forward. Lamar Jackson took seven sacks against the Steelers and it kind of felt like more than that. A good bit of that is actually on the quarterback, but excusing seven sacks from an offensive line isn’t happening in my book.

There’s only so much the Ravens can do upfront. The Ravens need Pat Mekari at right tackle. There’s just no way around it and it looks like Mekari won’t be able to suit up against the Cleveland Browns. Mekari didn’t practice on Wednesday because of his nagging ankle injury. Maybe Ja’Waun James can be the answer by the end of the season, but that’s a major question mark. If Tyre Phillips is your right tackle, you have issues.

The offensive line needs help from Pat Ricard and the second and third tight ends on the roster, mostly on the right side of the offensive line. Ricard should get more time on the field because the fullback is the best extra blocker Baltimore has. The right side is the big problem. Alejandro Villanueva is having a surprisingly decent season at left tackle. Bradley Bozeman is doing well at the center position. Helping out the right tackle has to be a part of every game plan.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens breakdown: The 2 point conversion attempt

Boiled down, the keys are getting Jackson going with tempo and play-calling while helping out the right side of the offensive line with extra blockers.

Author:

I am Chris Schisler. I am the owner and lead writer here at the Nest! Football is my passion and I'm very happy to share it with the Flock!

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