Lamar Jackson set a record for the most rushes by a quarterback in a single season as a rookie, despite only starting seven games, recording 147 rushing attempts. A year later, he broke his own record with 29 more attempts over 15 games, but came relatively close to doubling his yardage, also breaking the quarterback rushing record with 1206 yards. He averaged 6.9 yards per carry, and his legs proved to be a staple of the offense, arguably the feature around which everything else was built.
So, after running the ball more than any NFL quarterback has ever done before, Jackson, who also announced that he will be the next player featured on the cover of Madden, told reporters yesterday, “I doubt if I’m going to be carrying the ball a lot going on in the future”.
Of course, the team also said that last year. He predicted that he would attempt 30 passes per game (he would attempt about 27) and that he “probably won’t have as many [rushing] attempts as last year”. He had more. Steve Bisciotti said fans would be “pleasantly surprised” by how little he runs, though he was right that he wouldn’t average 20 attempts per game (he would only average 12. He averaged 17 attempts per game in his seven starts as a rookie).
“We’ve got dynamic running backs”, Jackson said of why he believes he will not run as much in 2020. “We’re going to have even more receivers. We’ve got Hollywood, Mark Andrews, Nick (Boyle), Willie Snead, Miles (Boykin). We’re going to be pretty good. I don’t think I’ll be running a lot”.
That’s all the same supporting cast as last season, minus Hayden Hurst. Granted, they will surely add a rookie wide receiver to the mix, and they can expect some development from Brown and Boykin, but can we really safely assume that he’s not going to average about 10 rushing attempts per game—a large percentage of which were designed runs?
Last season, he ranked 30tth in pass attempts per game among quarterbacks who attempted at least 200 passes during the year. Despite leading the league in passing touchdowns, he was 31st in passing yards per game, and 22nd in actual passing yards on the season, at just 3127 yards. He still averages a healthy 7.8 yards per attempt, but the point is, almost every other team throws the ball more than the Ravens, and most of them significantly more.
So will we really see that big of a difference in their offense from one season to the next? Especially considering how limited this offseason is likely to be? After Greg Roman just built an offense around the unique qualities of their system and what Jackson can bring as a running threat?
That is what made the offense work, leading the league with 30.4 points scored per game and going 14-2. Passing more isn’t going to make them a better offense—likely—though it should reduce his risk of injury.