Wed, Dec 11, 2019

With a national television audience watching on Monday night, Lamar Jackson put on a show in Los Angeles. During the Ravens‘ 45-6 win over the Rams, not only did Jackson throw five touchdown passes, but he also helped Baltimore’s offense roll up 285 rushing yards, which was the fifth-highest total in franchise history. 

No team has been able to figure out how to stop the Ravens offense this season, which has become pretty clear on the scoreboard over the past few weeks. Not only have the Ravens scored at least 40 points in their past three games, but with their 39-point win over L.A., they became the first team in NFL history to win three straight games by 34 or more points. 

One person who had a front row seat to Monday’s beatdown in Los Angeles was Rams coach Sean McVay. If there’s anyone in the NFL who knows a special offense when he sees one, it’s definitely McVay, who turned the Rams from an offensive laughingstock in 2016 to a high-flying Super Bowl contender during his first two years on the job. 

According to McVay, the reason the Ravens are having so much success is because it’s nearly impossible to prepare for them. You can simulate their plays, but one thing you can’t simulate is Jackson’s speed and how well he runs the offense. 

“You can’t truly simulate that, especially when you look at just what a great job they do of creating the conflict,” McVay said this week, via quotes distributed by the team. “When you look at when it is some of those gives downhill, those things hit faster on the second and third levels. Then when Lamar does pull it on some of those zone-read plays, he’s got the ability to get around you and then what he can do as a runner, just feeling space, because you’re not tackling during the week, those do make it very, very difficult to simulate those types of things. They do a great job of creating conflict for a defense.”

Jackson, who finished with 95 yards on the ground against the Rams, now just needs to average 32.6 yards rushing per game over the final five weeks of the season to break Michael Vick’s single-season rushing record for a quarterback. 

Of course, Jackson can also do plenty of damage with his right arm. Thanks to his five touchdown performance in L.A., the Ravens quarterback now has 24 touchdown passes on the season, which is tied with Russell Wilson for the league lead. 

The Ravens offense was so good that McVay almost sounded like he was a little bit in awe of what he saw on the field during his team’s loss. 

“It was impressive,” McVay said. “When you sit there and you watch and you feel the operation up close and personal, and you just see just how sharp they are with their execution — what a dynamic playmaker he is — what a good job they do of creating conflict right before the snap, changing your fits. And then, on third down, they were really impressive – just his (Ravens QB Lamar Jackson) operation, his ability to be able to find some completions, make plays with his legs.”

The Ravens quarterback is currently the frontrunner in the MVP race and McVay now understands why. 

“There is a reason why people are talking about him as an MVP,” McVay said. “Again, give them credit, they did a good job, but we’re not going to let this bleed in to next week. This is humbling.”

Although no one has really figured how out how to stop Jackson, several teams have slowed him down. Most notably, the Chargers shut him down in the playoffs last year by using a defensive scheme that mostly involved having seven defensive backs on the field at all times. Although the Ravens will likely be ready if someone throws that scheme at them again, it’s likely going to take something unorthodox like that to slow Jackson down right now. 

The Chargers actually had one thing in common with other teams that have slowed him down. The playoff game was the Chargers second time playing against Jackson, so they had some familiarity with him and it seems that familiarity pays off big when you’re going up against Jackson. 

The Ravens have been held under 30 points just five times this year, but four of those games came against teams that had already played against Jackson at least once during his career: the Bengals, Steelers, Browns and Chiefs.

That doesn’t mean anyone is going to slow him down in the postseason, but probably makes teams like the Patriots and Texans feel better about a playoff rematch after getting throttled by the Ravens during the regular season. 

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