NFL Offenses Are Running to Catch Up to Ravens, Stealing Plays

ESPN’s Ryan Clark said the shift to an emphasis on the run is a reaction to defenses being built to defend the pass. In such defenses, players with speed and agility are preferred over the big “space eaters” of yesteryear.

“It’s all catching up to the bottom line, and when you’re converting offensively to these spread offenses and throwing the football around, now your defense changes as well,” Clark said. “Right now, defensively, I don’t want Reggie White, I don’t want Michael Strahan, I want Von Miller. And that’s why guys like TJ Watt can be defensive player of the year because they’re quick, they’re agile, they can bend, they’re quick.

“On the back end, everything we’re teaching these kids is footwork, we’re teaching these kids technique … and you can minimize some of these great players on the outside. … The only thing we used to praise in football was physicality was physical activity. ; we don’t praise it anymore. And so now when the offense says, ‘Oh, you’ve got this guy and he can run sideline, let’s see if he wants to get punched in the mouth.'”

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Orlovsky added, “Defenses have a lot more answers for coverage, for the passing game. We’re seeing an open middle game, we’re seeing coverage plays. Teams are playing so much nickel defense right now, it’s like 65 percent of the league lives in nickel when it comes to And dimes that came into the NFL, their #1 goal or ability is coverage… I want to put you on the defensive end like a dime because I’m going to run right at you because I know you can win one rep, but I want to see if you can play the 35 run snaps as a cash price since you want to live in it.”

ESPN’s Mina Kimes noted that the increasing number of mobile backs like Jackson was a contributing factor to the spike in numbers, but it’s not the only reason, as running backs are all about running backs in early downs.

“What has changed dramatically, but I think is a pretty big factor, is the types of runs we’re seeing on early downs,” Kimes said. “Across the league so far this season, the outside zone, the inside zone are down, the backs are up. And not only are they worse, but they’re a lot more productive on early downs.”

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As for whether a run-heavy team, especially the Ravens, can make a deep postseason run, Russell Street Report’s Darin McCann believes the answer is yes.

“This Ravens team can absolutely make the playoffs this year with their style of play. But so can the Chiefs, Bills, Dolphins, Eagles and any other great team,” McCann wrote. “Everything will be about who is the most efficient with the possession they have. And who can force the other team to be less efficient.”

Obviously, until the Ravens make a postseason run, they haven’t, but just because they haven’t doesn’t mean they can’t. Everything magnifies in the postseason, but the sample size is small and there are reasons why the Ravens are 1-3 in the playoffs in the Jackson era that have nothing to do with their offensive approach.

Bears steal from the best*‘* in Using Ravens’ Designed Run Plays for Justin Fields

“Let’s give the Bears coaches credit for finally realizing what they should have realized a few weeks ago that former head coach Matt Nagy never did: You can build your offense to the point around Justin Fields as a run threat, just like … The Ravens are definitely done with Jackson,” wrote Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar.

“If you don’t have a plan, you steal from the best! Obviously, one of the parts of the plan that [Bears Offensive Coordinator Luke] Getsy and his staff together were based on the aforementioned Mr. Jackson and the success he had as a running back throughout his career in the concepts devised by offensive coordinator Greg Roman.”

After the Bears significantly increased the number of designed runs for Fields in their 33-14 win over the New England Patriots in Week 7, the second-year running back said, “It just brings another whole element to our offense, stealing some plays from the Ravens.”


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