Do the Baltimore Ravens Need a Change in Philosophy?

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The Baltimore Ravens were hopeful that Lamar Jackson would lead the franchise into a new era with the potential of building a dynasty in the NFL. In his first season as a starter at M&T Bank Stadium, Jackson guided the Ravens to a 14-2 campaign in 2019 and won the MVP award in the process.

The 24-year-old dazzled with his rushing ability and throws downfield, and seemed on course to lead Baltimore into the Super Bowl. However, the Ravens were crushed in their first playoff game by the Tennessee Titans on home soil.

Jackson and his team-mates were taken out of their rhythm and he lacked the skill set to propel the franchise back into the contest.

It was once again the case in the 2020 season, failing against the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round after initially making a breakthrough by beating the Titans in the Wildcard Round. On the basis of their playoff defeat, the Ravens look a long way off matching the favourites in the current NFL 2021 Super Bowl odds, the Kansas City Chiefs.

The proof will come next season whether they are ready to take the next step to compete against Patrick Mahomes and company. There has been a narrative built around Jackson that he needs the game to be played on his terms to register victories on a regular basis.

Against the elite teams in the league when he has been required to drive the Ravens back into games, John Harbaugh’s side have fallen short of the mark.

This was evident when the Ravens were embarrassed by the Chiefs on home soil. Jackson is not a quarterback in the mould of Mahomes. Mahomes can do it all. The 25-year-old’s initial thought is to work the ball as far downfield as possible with his incredible arm.

On the other side of the coin, Jackson looks to run it whenever he can, avoiding the use of his arm at least initially. Mahomes’ skill set has allowed the Chiefs to make comebacks look easy, including their Super Bowl LIV triumph over the San Francisco 49ers.

Baltimore and Kansas City have a clash in styles. In the modern-day NFL, it certainly appears that throwing the ball efficiently is not more important than an effective ground game. Baltimore will have to hope that Jackson develops his skills as a passer downfield or supply him with talent at the receiver positions. Marquise Brown has enjoyed two solid seasons since being selected in the first round of the 2019 Draft.

But the Ravens don’t have receivers comparable to the Chiefs or even the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, or Tennessee Titans.

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