Ravens look for QB Lamar Jackson to run less, throw more
BALTIMORE (AP) — In a league that relies heavily on the forward pass, the Baltimore Ravens have gone old-school in their bid to reach the NFL playoffs.
With quarterback Lamar Jackson leading the way , the Ravens rushed for 265 yards Sunday in a 24-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Jackson ran 27 times for 117 yards, Gus Edwards garnered 115 yards on the ground and both rookies rushed for seven first downs.
There’s a good chance Jackson will start for the injured Joe Flacco again Sunday when the Ravens (5-5) host the Oakland Raiders (2-8). If Jackson is the starter, it’s unlikely he will again slither, slide and scramble with the ball 27 times.
“Yeah, you don’t want your quarterback getting hit that much,” coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “It’s not going to last that way. So, that’s pretty self-evident.”
That said, Harbaugh mocked those people concerned about Jackson’s workload.
“Oh, he had 27 carries,” Harbaugh said. “You know what he did? He won the game. He played his tail off. Celebrate that, and move on.”
Whatever it takes to win.
“It’s not what we’re going to be shooting for by any stretch, but if it takes that many, Lamar will do it,” Harbaugh said. “But, no, he took some hits. I think they knew the quarterback was going to run the ball. They were going after him a little bit, as you would expect. That’s something that we have to look at going forward.”
Selected 32nd overall in the 2018 draft, Jackson was thrust into the starting lineup because Flacco has a right hip injury that has been slow to heal and could keep him sidelined against the Raiders.
“He has a chance,” Harbaugh said, without much conviction.
Jackson ran 655 times at Louisville and won the 2016 Heisman Trophy for his ability to carry the ball, not throw it. On Sunday, his carries accounted for more than a third of Baltimore’s 73 offensive plays, and the Ravens finished with 54 rushing attempts compared to 19 passes.
Harbaugh bristled when someone asked him about Jackson’s ability to throw the football, and where that fits into the game plan moving forward.
“Yeah, we’re going to throw the ball more down the road,” Harbaugh insisted. “All this veiled stuff, ‘Is he really a thrower?’ I got news for you: He’s a thrower. He’s a quarterback. I don’t appreciate the insinuation of the question. Lamar Jackson is a quarterback.”
He’s a quarterback with 256 yards rushing — second on the team behind Alex Collins — and 237 yards passing. Collins scored a touchdown against the Bengals, but his playing time was sheared by Edwards, an undrafted rookie free agent who got 17 carries and played most of the second half.
Edwards, who scored his first NFL touchdown , got the call because of the way he’s excelled in the days leading up to game day.
“He’s been practicing great,” Harbaugh said. “It has been a goal to get him more carries before this.”
Baltimore’s 265 yards rushing against Cincinnati was tied for the fifth most in franchise history, and it marked the first time in NFL history that a team had a rookie quarterback and rookie running back each top 100 yards rushing.
After he was done, Jackson made one final run — after the referee to snag the game ball.
“However you move the ball is good. You do it based on your personnel,” Harbaugh said. “You want it to be a mix, but in the end, the players deserve the credit for running the ball so well.”