‘Gus the Bus’ kind of took Baltimore by storm during the second half of the 2018 season, then an undrafted rookie running back who spent most of the year on the practice squad. He was called up, and when Lamar Jackson took over at quarterback from the Ravens, he ended up as the lead back.
Since then, they signed Mark Ingram in free agency, drafted Justice Hill in the fourth round last year, and now took J.K. Dobbins in the second round, a player that the front office is on record as saying that they viewed as a first-round pick—and likely the eventual starter.
Despite a somewhat crowded backfield last year, including Jackson leading the way with over 1200 yards, the Ravens still set an NFL rushing record with nearly 3300 yards on the season. Ingram also gained over 1000 yards. Edwards himself picked up over 700, and even the rookie Hill gained over 200 yards, with the four of them accounting for the vast, vast majority of the total.
With Edwards looking like potentially the third on the depth chart, however, he recently told reporters that he believes Greg Roman’s offense is capable of serving all of the team’s running backs—it can start by lowering Jackson’s carry total, which came to 176 in 15 games.
“I think we were able to do it last year with three” running backs, he told reporters, about keeping everybody happy. He said that Roman is “committed to” the running game and using multiple runners. “We’ll see where it goes. I’m excited about it. it’s a chance to make history”.
I don’t know how often a team has three players rush for at least 700 yards in the same season, but I’m guessing it’s not all that common an occurrence. In 2020, it’s not unreasonable if we see them with four players who rush for at least 500 yards, especially if Dobbins is able to catch on quickly.
“It’s just so much going for us”, Edwards said of the offense. “Lamar’s going to come back better, I trust that because he’s a hard worker. Everybody on the team pretty much has the right mindset. Guys want to win. I think it will make it that much easier for us. We set the standard very high last year but I have full confidence that we can build off of it”.
Earlier in the offseason, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta called the team’s running game a four-headed monster, referring to Ingram, Edwards, Hill, and now Dobbins, but of course it’s really a five-pronged attack with Jackson as well.
Still, it’s extremely unlikely that they repeat their success for frequency of rushes from last year. One of the reasons they were able to run the ball so frequently is because they so regularly had leads, and teams just don’t usually sustain that kind of success from one year to another. Of course, when they do, it makes history.