The Baltimore Ravens set an NFL rushing yardage record last season for a single season. And it can be fairly argued that they made their running game even better with the second-round selection of J.K. Dobbins during the 2020 NFL Draft. At least, the backfield is more talented. And the leader of that group isn’t afraid to make grand declarations about it.
“Our backfield is gonna be the best in the league, for sure”, said Mark Ingram, the 30-year-old who was the Ravens’ leading ballcarrier last season after signing as a free agent. Quarterback Lamar Jackson actually led the team in rushing yards, setting a new quarterback record in doing so.
Behind Ingram was Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. They are still set to return for 2020, but the influx of a talent like Dobbins is significant, at least on paper. Of course, when you take a running back in the second round, you expect him to be able to be good, possibly for a long time.
“I like his mindset, I like his attitude, I like the way he run the ball. Just bring him and his talents to our room that’s already special”, Ingram said about the latest addition to his meeting room. “We’re all looking forward to it, being playmakers for the team and help us win the championship”.
While the Ravens no doubt had talented ballcarriers last season, so much of their success on the ground can be attributed to offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s scheme, which really orchestrated the entire offense around the run game, with the passing game largely built on play-action passes around it, as well as Jackson’s threat to run the ball.
They, along with only a couple of other teams in the league, were also very successful in creating a complete rushing offense, with tight ends and wide receivers who were wholly bought into their own roles in getting the ground game going.
Having a great offensive line didn’t hurt, either. While they still have some great players, the retirement of Marshal Yanda is a setback for them, and based on how much weight he’s already lost, it’s clear that, like Alan Faneca, he has no intentions of turning back.
Prognosticators are always tempted to predict that great feats will be duplicated, but they rarely are. The Ravens had one of the top scoring offenses in league history last season, but history suggests they will have a 5- to 6-point swing from one year to the next.
If Baltimore can manage to sustain what they did last season, that would be even more impressive than what they already accomplished a year ago, going 14-2 and rarely looking as though anybody could threaten them. Many games finished with Jackson watching Robert Griffin III from the sidelines, sometimes even by the end of the third quarter.