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Were the Ravens Too Cute With Lamar Jackson in Week 1?

September 10, 2018 - 7:40 pm
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By Joe Schiller

One of the burning questions surrounding the Baltimore Ravens coming into a new season was Lamar Jackson’s involvement with the offense.

The first-round pick was selected to develop and learn behind Joe Flacco and RGIII but the athleticism that earned him a Heisman Trophy at Louisville figured to be too much to ignore in some capacity for the offensive coaching staff.

John Harbaugh, Marty Mornhinweg, James Urban, and others had little to say about offensive personnel packages over the course of the offseason but it didn’t take long for Jackson to get involved.

Before entering the game midway through the third quarter as the starting quarterback, Jackson was involved in five plays with the first-team offense.

Play 1: Lined up as a slot receiver, Jackson motions behind Joe Flacco to the left. Ravens run counter to Alex Collins that’s called back because of a holding penalty on Alex Lewis

Play 2: Lined up in a pistol formation as the quarterback with Nick Boyle on his left, Maxx Williams on his right and Buck Allen behind. Jackson runs a read-option with Boyle and Williams as the lead blockers and gains zero yards on the play.

Play 3: Lined up in a four wide receiver set with Jackson as the slot receiver on the right. Jackson motions to the left, takes a pitch from Flacco. In what’s intended to be a pass play, Jackson is forced out of the pocket by linebacker Jerry Hughes and smartly throws the ball away.

Play 4: Lined up on the outside, Jackson motions across the face of Flacco. Ravens fake the jet sweep to Jackson and Flacco throws an incomplete pass to John Brown.

Play 5: Lined as the inside slot receiver on the left, Jackson motions across the face of Flacco again. Flacco hands off the ball to Alex Collins for a five-yard gain.

The takeaway: Jackson was used as a mere distraction.

Only twice did he have the ball in his hands. Three of the five plays he was sent in motion as a decoy for Leslie Frazier and the Bills’ defense.

If this becomes a weekly occurrence, my concern is that the Ravens will become too cute with sub-packages. With the way Joe Flacco was slinging the ball early in the game, a few plays with Jackson almost disrupted the flow of the offense at that point.

Anytime Jackson is on the field there’s reason for excitement but are a few sub-package plays worth potentially injuring the franchise quarterback of the future?

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