The Ravens want Lamar Jackson to play under center more in 2021. The team’s desire to make him more conventional may reduce his effectiveness.
Lamar Jackson blossomed into an MVP for the Ravens, in part, because of the team’s willingness to let him play the quarterback position differently than his peers. Unfortunately for Jackson, it seems his coaching staff’s commitment to letting him be different is starting to wane.
Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman is under intense pressure to improve the team’s conventional passing attack in 2021. That’s a big reason he’s planning to line Jackson up under center more often this season. Roman doesn’t want to speculate on how much less time his star signal-caller will spend in the pistol formation this season, but it’s obvious the Ravens want to make a significant change to their offensive system.
The Ravens are spinning this change as an opportunity for Jackson to further his development as a quarterback. Admittedly, he could become even more dangerous as an offensive weapon if his classic dropback passing improved. His inability to produce big plays from the pocket has been a big issue for the Ravens in the postseason when they get behind a high-powered opponent.
Are the Ravens smart to move Lamar Jackson under center?
The problem with the strategy is that it also stops Jackson from doing what makes him so difficult for opposing defenses to handle. He’s at his best when he’s allowed to survey the opposition and stress it by moving to the perimeter with the ball in his hands. Jackson has game-breaking ability as a scrambler but he also can use his exceptional arm strength to hit deep throws when opposing secondaries are drawn out of position by the threat of his rushing ability.
Those plays won’t be completely eliminated by moving him under center, but they’ll become much less frequent. Roman and his coaching staff hope that involving Jackson in ball fakes can help stress defenses in a different manner. The simple truth is that no one in Baltimore’s backfield is going to scare opponents more than Jackson when he has the ball in his hands with any kind of space to run into.
Ravens fans should hope that the team’s coaching staff is just looking to diversify their offense rather than completely reinvent it. Shackling Jackson by asking him to play like the rest of the quarterbacks in the league would be a serious mistake. Anything that diminishes his ability to make plays in the open field will prove to be a fatal mistake by the Ravens coaching staff.