Photo Courtesy: USA Today

Ravens Should Incorporate Four RBs

August 08, 2019 - 8:52 pm

By Austin Medina  

Although the Ravens signed marquee free agent Mark Ingram in the offseason, the goal should be to incorporate four different running backs in 2019.

Ingram signed a three-year, $15 million contract and sure, he will seemingly be the featured starting back. With the Ravens run-heavy mindset, incorporating four running backs will ultimately help Ingram thrive over a 16-game season.

Ingram has played all 16 games in a season just twice in his eight-year career. Both seasons he played every game came in 2016 and 2017 respectively, when he shared running back duties with star Alvin Kamara.

Across the league, featured backs have become less and less prevalent. Teams such as Philadelphia, New England, and Seattle have used a running back-by-committee scheme and seen success. For the Ravens, using a variety of backs would prove beneficial especially with the talent currently attained.

Undrafted Gus Edwards broke out last season when Lamar Jackson began taking starting snaps for Baltimore. In just 11 games (six starts), Edwards ran for 718 yards and two touchdowns. He became the first Ravens running back to rush for 100 yards in consecutive games since Jamal Lewis did it in 2000. There is a lot of potential growth for Edwards, who finished fifth in rushing yards among rookie backs.

Having a duo of Ingram and Edwards will certainly tire down opposing defenses. To add, fourth-year back Kenneth Dixon has reason to believe he’ll also be in the mix in 2019. A knee injury stalled his progress in 2018, yet Dixon showed he could carry the load as well even after the injury. In the 26-24 victory over Cleveland in Week 17, Dixon ran for 117 yards and averaged 9.8 yards per carry en route to clinching the AFC North title.

With the elusive Lamar Jackson, the tough-minded three-headed monster would make life easier for a fourth running back: Justice Hill. Unlike the three other running backs, Hill’s speed is his biggest threat. Clocking in with a 4.4 40-yard dash, Hill can be the homerun hitter for Baltimore. Hill, entering just his rookie season, would add a different dynamic that will make defenses be on the lookout at all times.

Last season, Alex Collins, Gus Edwards, Kenneth Dixon and Buck Allen combined for 352 carries. With Ingram and Hill replacing Collins and Allen, I expect the quartet to see even more carries in 2019. 

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s love for running the rock has proven successful with previous teams. Both San Francisco and Buffalo saw tons of success in the run game, led by Roman’s play calling. With the influx of talent attained in Baltimore, the Ravens would be a legit problem for opposing defense throughout 2019.

And why just go with one back, such as Ingram? There are three other backs hungry, and more than capable, of sharing the load en route to another AFC North crown.