Lamar Jackson is going to make defenses pay with the play-action pass in 2019:
The Baltimore Ravens have the fastest quarterback the NFL has ever seen. They have three more than capable running backs and everybody in the entire world knows that the Ravens love running the football. Lamar Jackson’s passing has been heavily scrutinized and there are many people doubting whether he has the chops to be a franchise quarterback.
It all plays into the hand of Greg Roman, the new offensive coordinator in Baltimore. The Ravens are going to see a lot of eight men in the tackle box. Even with an improved passing game, with a speedy new weapon like Marquise Brown, defensive coordinators are going to go all out to stop the run. The Ravens’ strength is transparent. They are a run first offense. Stopping the Baltimore running game is the first step to stopping the entire offense.
Play-action passing has to be a huge part of the Ravens offensive game-plan. A play-action pass is when the quarterback fakes a hand off before a pass. It is a part of every offense in the league but it will be entirely more challenging to stop when it is done by Jackson and the Ravens.
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This will get Jackson on the move. Jackson has a weird ability to make perfect throws when he is on the run. His accuracy is a huge question mark, yet when he is throwing out of the pocket it seems to be more natural for him and with better results. Rolling him out of the pocket is hugely beneficial. That’s where Jackson is going to make his best plays with his arm but it has another plus tied to it.
The defense has to honor the threat of three things on essentially every play. Threat one is that Lamar Jackson keeps the football and knifes down the field. Threat two is that Jackson hands the ball off and a running back runs downhill in a hurry. Threat three is that Jackson remains a passer after the mesh point and everything is in play from a scramble to a 60 yard pass.
The Ravens goal offensively should be to create conflicts for the opposing defense. They want to be aggressive to stop the run? The play-action pass is going to burn them hard. They want eight men in the box? “Hollywood” Brown is going deep and Mark Andrews can make them pay as well. After a play-action pass, especially on a bootleg, Jackson is at his best as a passer.
Finally imagine being a linebacker in a zone coverage. Jackson is rolling out, and you see it’s a pass. Yet Jackson has open grass in front of him and you have to make a choice. Do you rush Jackson? If you do, Jackson could hit a receiver in the vacated zone. If you don’t he could fly down the field, pick up the first down with a little extra yardage and go out of bounds safely. It’s what Jackson wants and what the linebacker doesn’t want. The play-action pass is going to be a key element of what makes the Ravens tick, especially when Jackson rolls all the way out of the pocket.