The Baltimore Ravens had one of the best offenses in the league last year. At least in terms of scoring, they had the best, inf act, as they led the NFL in points per game, and routine held double-digit leads during their 14-2 regular season campaign.
So much of that had to do with second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson and the run-oriented offense that new defensive Greg Roman built and installed around him. It was an offense that helped Jackson set a new quarterback rushing record with over 1200 yards in 15 games, so much of that coming on designed runs rather than scrambles.
A bit part of Roman’s offense was showing defenses what they weren’t expecting. But he admits the nature of this offseason will limit them in terms of what they can get done. With Spring workouts completely limited to virtual meetings, teams will only have training camp—if they’re lucky—to prepare for the regular season.
“We haven’t had the luxury of OTAs and whatnot to really kind of test run certain things”, he told reporters recently. “We have to be really judicious with how we use that time in training camp to experiment. I think experimenting this year is going to be very selective”.
That’s going to apply to all 32 teams, of course, and that will be a special burden on teams who are installing new offenses, with new head coaches or offensive coordinators, like the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals.
“Especially in a season like this, you don’t want to get too far off the rails. You’ve got to stay on the rails and be selective with what you want to do differently”, Roman added. “What I’ve learned over the years is you’ve got to be really, really good at something. And after you get really, really good at something, you want to get really, really good at a few things, and you keep building on that”.
What they did was run the ball with both volume and efficiency. They had an astonishing 596 rushing attempts last season, which is the most since the New York Jets recorded 607 rushing attempts in 2009. The only other team since the mid-80s Chicago Bears to reach the same mark was the Pittsburgh Steelers in Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie season of 2004.
Baltimore’s 596 rushing attempts is tied for 39th-most in NFL history, but they produced 3296 yards on the ground, the most all-time, and their 5.53-yard rushing average was the highest among teams with the same number of carries. The closest was the 1973 Buffalo Bills, who averaged 5.1 yards per carry.
Can they keep up the same level without the benefit of having the opportunity to tweak things, now that defenses have seen what they intend to do? This is always the burden of a great offense heading into the next year. And these Ravens will be particularly handicapped due to the circumstances of the offseason.