Gus Edwards believes Ravens can break the single season rushing record again
Last season the Baltimore Ravens were the best team in the regular season and finished with a league-high and franchise-best 14-2 record thanks in large part to their revolutionary rushing attack spearheaded by reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson. In addition to Jackson breaking the single-season rushing record for a quarterback, the offense as a whole shattered the single-season team record that stood for over four decades dating back to the 1978 New England Patriots. They tallied 3,296 yards in 16 games as a team and had three players rush for over 700 yards, including two 1,000-yard rushers.
Making history is a hard enough feat as it is, but doing it twice in consecutive seasons is a daunting task to ask any team or individual player to do even if they are returning the majority of the roster and coaching staff from the previous year. The Ravens were fortunate enough to return nearly their entire roster and coaching staff from their historic 2019 team including both offensive and defensive coordinators along with all of their young cornerstone playmakers.
Baltimore still intends to batter and bludgeon opposing defenses with a dominant rushing attack in 2020 as they did last season and running back Gus Edwards is confident that this year’s squad is capable of making history in the same way that they did last year.
“We’re bringing back a lot of guys in the offense,” Edwards said via the team’s official website. “We added more weapons. We’re going to be more familiar with the system. It’s just so much going for us. Lamar’s going to come back better, I trust that because he’s a hard worker. Everybody on the team pretty much has the right mindset. Guys want to win. I think it will make it that much easier for us. We set the standard very high last year, but I have full confidence that we can build off of it.”
“I think Coach [Greg] Roman is committed to it, it seems like Coach Harbaugh is committed to it. “That’s the first step. We’ll see where it goes. I’m excited. It’s a chance to make history.”
Besting what they were able to accomplish last year is easier said than done especially when the whole league will see you coming and will know what to expect in year two of the offense with Jackson as the full-time starter. The Ravens were able to sneak up on a lot of their opponents in 2019 but Head Coach John Harbaugh said believes that won’t be the case in 2020.
“Starting next year, we’re not going to be the iceberg,” Harbaugh said. “People are going to see us. We’re going to be everybody’s most important game.”
Another year in Roman’s system for Edwards, Jackson, veteran Mark Ingram and rising sophomore Justice Hill is plus but the loss of eight-time Pro Bowl and future Hall of Fame offensive guard Marshal Yanda to retirement coupled with no clear cut replacement or concrete starter at center or the at left guard could be a potential hurdle in their quest to break their own astonishing record.
One of the new weapons that Edwards was referring to in his statement above is rookie running back J.K. Dobbins who the team selected in the second round with the 55th overall pick despite already bolstering the league’s best backfield already. Dobbins was viewed as a late first-round pick and was too good of prospect for the Ravens to pass up in the middle of the second. He could be the future starter down the line and has star potential at the NFL with all that he brings to the table as a runner and as an underrated pass-catcher out of the backfield. Count Edwards among those that were in disbelief that the former Buckeye was still on the board by the time the Ravens were on the clock.
“I was surprised because I thought he was like the best back in the class,” Edwards said of Dobbins during a video conference call. “We definitely got better. It’s going to be difficult to do better than what we did last year, breaking the rushing record. But I think it’s a step forward. It’s a definite step towards that because he’s a great back. He’s going to make the competition that much better at running back.”
Teams will definitely be dedicating more defenders to the line of scrimmage to load the box in an attempt to prevent the Ravens from imposing their will on the ground, dominating time of possession and dictating the pace of games. It will be tougher sledding from a schematic standpoint early on but if the extra bodies have the desired effect on the passing game by leaving their receivers in more one on one opportunities down the field then they could be putting defenses in quite the bind with the unpredictability, potency, and explosiveness of their offense in 2020. Even if they don’t break the single-season team rushing record for a second straight year, they could still be the most dangerous offense in the league for the second year in a row.
“Those corners are going to be one-on-one and those safeties are going to be one-on-one against receivers, especially on downfield throws, and we got to make them pay for it,” Harbaugh said during a conference call with PSL owners last month. “I really do believe that’s the next step for this offense from an execution standpoint.