Ravens RB Gus Edwards needs to be more involved on offense

Through the first three games of the 2020 regular season reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson leads the Baltimore Ravens in rushing with 182 yards. However, the leading rusher among their running backs isn’t three-time Pro Bowler Mark Ingram or highly touted and dynamic rookie J.K. Dobbins. It is third-year pro Gus Edwards, a former undrafted free agent out of Rutgers in 2018, with 129 rushing yards on 18 carries in three games.

While Jackson is still the team’s most electric and explosive runner, the bruising power back nicknamed ‘The Bus’ has been their most effective in the first three weeks of the season. Edwards is averaging a staggering 7.2 yards per carry and against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs in a 34-20 loss on Monday Night in Week Three, he rushed for 39 yards on four carries for 9.8 yards per carry.

Without discounting the contributions of Ingram who is averaging a respectable 4.4 yard per carry and Dobbins who has amassed 127 yards and a pair of touchdowns from scrimmage on 15 touches, Edwards has just been the best runner of the three backs thus far and needs to be utilized more early in games and not just predominately in the second half to eat up the clock when the team has a lead.

He has earned a larger role and more carries on offense with his performance in the Ravens first three games. His production and success on the ground have been especially impressive considering he’s been able to do so with more defenders closer to the line of scrimmage. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Edwards has faced a stacked box on 33.3 percent of the time, sixth-most in the league.

The 6-foot-1, 238-pound freight train is the powerful and punishing runner that the Ravens have on the roster. His rugged running style is a nightmare for opposing defense because it not only wears them down over the course of a game, but it also helps open up more favorable matchups in the passing game since the team is going to run the ball far more often than not when he’s in the game which means more defenders in the box and less in coverage.

Where his increased workload could be especially impactful on the passing attack would be in the middle of the field where linebackers would be sucked up more often to defend the run first, leaving the intermediate level more open for big gains and conversions.

Ravens Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews has had a dip in his production over the last two weeks but has proven to be a monster down the seam and in between the numbers during his young career. He would be one of the biggest benefactors from Edwards getting more involved in the offensive game plan.

In his first two seasons in the league, Edwards has topped 700 yards rushing in each of them and has recorded four games where he rushed for 100 yards including his lone start in 2019 in Week 17 when he recorded a career-high 130 yard on 21 carries and averaged 6.2 yards per carry. His career rushing average yards per carry is 5.4 which is a first down every other carry if the offense isn’t backed up by a penalty of loss of yardage.

Edwards is never brought down by the first defender to make contact, regularly breaks tackles, runs hard behind his pads and with a low center of gravity, rarely ever gets taken down in the backfield for a loss, and is capable of ripping off 10 and 20 plus yard runs the more he is fed the ball.

I’m not implying or suggesting that the Ravens should ride ‘The Bus’ until the wheels fall off or make him the featured workhorse back in their offense. However, I did want to underline that Edwards has made the most of his limited touches, has been the most effective back despite facing more loaded fronts, could be the key to maintaining a healthy balance on offense and has earned more playing time.

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