The Ravens Revolutionary Offense
The Ravens revolutionary offense is as mysterious as James Bond, The Twilight Zone or Area 51. Is there really anything to this “revolutionary” offense being assembled by the mad offensive minds in the dark recesses of the dungeons in “The Castle”? When the media and guests leave do the Ravens pile into their soundproof practice dome outside the peering eyes of cameras, video equipment and satellite surveillance and practice the secret offense? Every offensive player is carrying top secret information in their iPads, Surfaces and their heads and sworn to secrecy. (Except after they are cut.).
In all seriousness, Greg Roman is assembling an offense that should resemble what he did in San Francisco and Buffalo but it will be modified to take advantage of both Lamar Jackson’s talents, his arm and his legs. Where Roman’s previous stints provided quarterbacks that could run, in Baltimore, Roman has a quarterback that should run. There are mobile quarterbacks in this league but very few quarterbacks that have the running talent that makes them the best set of legs on the field. Lamar’s moves and his decision making when carrying the ball, forces people to make comparisons between him and Michael Vick.
But Kyler Murray, who is labeled as another “the next Michael Vick”, is in the league this year and also has the moves and legs of a star running back. He is coached by Kliff Kingsbury, the first year coach of the Arizona Cardinals who built a strong RPO (run-pass option) offense with Texas Tech. Kingsbury was quoted as saying this week that he is also not running plays from his offensive playbook this preseason. Greg Roman says the same thing. With similar quarterback talent are the Cardinals trying to replicate the same success the Ravens had with Jackson last year. But like the Ravens this year, tweak it to protect the quarterback a little bit more, and provide some quick passes and deep strikes. The Cardinals appear to be following the Ravens lead and running a parallel course toward recreating an NFL offense with the far more talented running and passing quarterbacks coming out of college instead of trying to fit a running quarterback into a solely throwing role.
That is what the NFL does to quarterbacks who are highly athletic and have the ability to run like the best running backs in the league. They tie them down and tell them to stay in the pocket to avoid being hit and avoid injury. Or they try to convert them into receivers or running backs or be used in gimmick plays. There have been many running quarterbacks in the league, like former Ravens Troy Smith and Tyrod Taylor, who were forced into passing or ancillary roles and never really allowed to explore a fully running style offense that included the quarterback. Then after the injury to Robert Griffin III, it seemed like every Offensive Coordinator ripped the pages out of their playbooks that had anything to do with quarterbacks running the ball and burned them. That is how we got to where we are today. A little Russell Wilson here, some Cam Newton there but nothing really designed to fully maximize the running talents of a quarterback.
So the Ravens with their subterfuge and stealth are assembling a new style offense incorporating option plays, run option, run-pass option, pistol, shotgun, I-formation, spit wing, wishbone, you name it, you will see the Ravens in every formation known to football in the last 50 years and perhaps some from even before then. They will be running any and every play from each of the aforementioned formations and run schemes so that no formation or personnel group could possibly give a clue as to what the offense is doing. The Ravens hope the defense will be confused by formations, personnel, and motion and the run game will be successful in and among itself. Then add in the speed of Marquis Brown the speed, size and catch radius of Miles Boykin, the reliability of Willie Snead and Chris Moore, the unbelievable trio of superstar Tight Ends that can do everything, and a massively improved Lamar Jackson and you have an indefensible offense.
Though I have no inside information, based on their actions to this point, and without any evidence being provided by the Ravens, this is what I believe the Ravens will be doing this year and, I believe, doing very successfully. That is why, I believe, the Cardinals will be doing the same thing with others soon to follow. That is the definition of a revolutionary offense, an offense that is changing how the game is played.