By Chris Schisler
The Baltimore Ravens will have to lean a little bit more heavily on Gus Edwards now that J.K. Dobbins is out for the season with a torn ACL. Fans want to know- partly for Fantasy Football – partly for the love of Ravens football, what will change this season for Gus Edwards?
The honest answer is not a lot. Edwards has had three straight seasons over 700 yards rushing. In 2018, he had 144 carries. He’s had over 130 carries three seasons in a row. While J.K. Dobbins was technically slated to be the number one running back, Edwards offered little to no drop-off as running back two. Essentially the Ravens planned on having two lead backs. One is out for the year, the other will continue to be a workhorse for the offense.
Projection is tricky but doable for the Baltimore Ravens’ top back:
Projecting based on last season is a little tricky. There’s an extra game this year, and Dobbins is out of the equation. For the moment, the fill-in running back carries will be handled by Justice Hill and Ty’Son Williams. Last season it was a fairly even split. Edwards ran the rock 144 times and Dobbins got it 133 times.
The reason it won’t be a drastic change for Edwards is that the Ravens aren’t going to abuse him. The Ravens haven’t really had a running back who got around 25 rushing attempts a game since the days of Brian Billick and Jamal Lewis. John Harbaugh-coached teams have seldom had one back do all the heavy lifting. In 2019, Mark Ingram had 10-13 carries per game, proof that the number one guy doesn’t get a cruel workload.
The Ravens are going to want to maximize what they get out of Edwards. They don’t want to work him so hard that they have him running out of gas by the playoffs. Let’s say he averages 12 rushing attempts per game. This seems like a fair number. 12 x 17 = 204 rushing attempts. That is 60 more carries than last season. His workload is going to go up.
So we have Edwards down for 204 rushing attempts. On paper, it does sound like a lot. In a perfect world, the Ravens may be able to lean on their other running backs enough to make it more of a fair ask of Edwards. Nonetheless, 204 attempts is the projection we’re at. Edwards should be good for around five yards per carry. That average would track with the rest of his career. That would give Edwards 1,020 yards on the year.
Additional thing to think about here:
Keeping in mind that there is an extra game and that Ty’Son Williams and Justice Hill probably don’t add up to the impact of one J.K. Dobbins, overdoing it a little bit with Edwards is going to be hard to avoid. The Ravens may not want to add a veteran running back to the mix either because the roster math is still a limitation. Can moves happen? Yes. For the time being this is the unit the Ravens have for the backfield.
I wouldn’t be shocked to see Pat Ricard get a little more in the way of touches this season. His rushing totals will still look minimal, yet it’s another way to run the ball without asking the “Gus Bus” to do it all.
One area of concern is how the Ravens have their running backs produce as running backs out of the backfield. Last year, Edwards only caught nine passes. Edwards only has 18 career receptions. Justice Hill all of the sudden is probably Baltimore’s best receiving option out of the backfield. Dobbins was a more dynamic playmaker as a receiving option than Edwards. This could limit the offense a bit more than Greg Roman would like.
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It should be a great year for Edwards. If he stays healthy he’s going to be one of the best running backs in the NFL. You could argue he already is one of the top backs in football. He certainly is one of the most consistent.