When the Ravens fell to 6-Four after their time beyond regulation loss to the Titans in Week 11, there was actual concern about whether or not they’d miss the AFC playoffs, a season after going 14-2 because the AFC’s high seed. The core query on the time was “What’s flawed with Lamar Jackson?”
Nobody is asking that about Baltimore’s reigning NFL MVP quarterback anymore, because the crew prepares for a rematch in Tennessee in Sunday’s wild-card matchup (1:05 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN). Jackson continues to be in search of his first win within the NFL playoffs and should face the opponent who additionally eradicated the Ravens 28-12 in final yr’s divisional spherical.
Since that regular-season rematch, the Ravens have not misplaced a recreation with Jackson. Since Jackson missed Week 12’s loss at Pittsburgh whereas battling COVID-19, he is come again to steer them on a stunning five-game successful streak with glorious momentum going into his third profession playoff recreation.
Jackson’s efficiency in opposition to the Titans in Week 11 was his final unhealthy one. Over the previous 5 video games, Jackson has a completion share of 67.zero and a passer score of 115.8. He is averaged 8.1 yards per go try. He is additionally averaged 86 speeding yards per recreation with 15 complete TDs.
Final season, throughout his MVP marketing campaign, Jackson had a completion share of 66.1 and a passer score of 113.three whereas averaging 7.Eight yards per try. He averaged 80.Four yards speeding per recreation. His present numbers say he is enjoying at or higher than that degree now.
So what explains Jackson breaking out of his hunch? For one, he is merely been extra correct as a passer and has confirmed extra decisive juice as a runner. He is again to being assured and aggressive in his dynamic athletic ability set, vs. being tentative. Defenses have performed their greatest to regulate to the Ravens’ distinctive type of offense below Greg Roman and Jackson was challenged to lift his recreation.
There’s good purpose that Jackson wasn’t placed on autopilot from the get-to to repeat his elite play from 2019. The Ravens misplaced one large piece of their offensive line in guard Marshal Yanda to retirement, after which noticed left deal with Ronnie Stanley go down with an ankle damage in Week 8. The younger huge receivers, led by Marquise “Hollywood” Brown did not make a giant bounce early and the standard working recreation did not begin out as dominant because it was wire-to-wire in 2019.
Jackson appeared to come back again refocused after his one-game absence. The time without work allowed him to what he wanted to do higher to elevate the offense again up. In flip, Roman and the Ravens deserve loads of credit score for making some good modifications round him.
A part of has been selecting the strongest offensive line continuity with out Stanley and Yanda. It took some time for Orlando Brown Jr. to regulate enjoying on the left aspect to interchange Stanley, however flipping him was sensible, as veteran D.J. Fluker has been sturdy at proper deal with. Each Patrick Merkari and short-term rookie damage substitute Trystan Colon-Castillo have shored up heart. Ben Powers, who made his first begin in that Titans recreation, has been the precise man to take over proper guard for Yanda.
With the Ravens feeling stronger up entrance, Roman has referred to as extra designed runs for Jackson inside to maintain defenses off steadiness, as he is nonetheless able to turning the nook for large runs, too. The Ravens even have labored to turn into much less predictable about after they go and the way they go, figuring out the play-action bundle must be an even bigger menace on early downs when defenses are geared most to stopping Jackson and their speeding assault.
With these ideas, second-year first-rounder Marquise Brown and remainder of the huge receivers — per the not-so refined request of “Hollywood” himself — have gotten extra concerned. For the reason that Titans recreation, Brown has caught 26 of 41 targets for 332 yards and 6 TDs in 6 video games. Fellow starter Miles Boykin has solely 5 receptions previously 5 video games, however three went for vital TDs. Tight finish Mark Andrews stays his go-to pressure, however Jackson has performed a greater job of spreading the ball round in key conditions.
No transfer has been larger to spice up Jackson, nonetheless, than the Ravens’ choice to fade Mark Ingram in the backfield and let rookie J.Ok. Dobbins and third-year man Gus Edwards take over. That complementary duo has delivered a super 1-2 punch with a lot youthful legs, resulting in optimizing energy and explosiveness within the speeding assault.
Throughout the five-game successful streak, Dobbins and Edwards have rolled by defenses. Dobbins has turned 62 carries into 425 yards and 6 TDs, averaging 85 yards per recreation and 6.9 yards per carry. Edwards has turned 50 carries into 337 yards and a couple of TDs, averaging 67.Four yards per recreation and 6.7 yards per carry. Ingram needed to see much less work, after he dropped from 5.zero yards per carry to 4.2 this season.
The Titans had bother with many facets of the Ravens’ offense in Week 11, at the beginning got here collectively and Jackson and the whole lot else obtained scorching once more. The Titans’ protection is not able to pulling what it did in final yr’s playoffs, both.
The entire, greatest model of Jackson has but to indicate up within the postseason. With slightly assist from his Ravens’ coaches and teammates, Jackson is in a distinct form of groove this time. Getting by a midseason impediment has made him solely stronger for the playoffs.