This is going to be a make-or-break season for J.K. Dobbins with the Baltimore Ravens. He missed most of the last two seasons with injuries, but he did start to turn things around by the end of last year.
Still, he is now entering his fourth season in the NFL, and he will be a free agent after this season. No matter what he does the Ravens will have a serious decision to make regarding his future. However, while some fans may think that a breakout in 2023 is due to finally showing up for the contract there is a real reason to believe that J.K. Dobbins will have his best year yet.
3. Baltimore Ravens may see less stacked boxes
One of the perks of playing with a mobile quarterback such as Lamar Jackson is that his running ability will freeze linebackers, and draw attention away from the running backs. However, the downside is that teams load the box to stop the run and dare Jackson to beat them through the air.
J.K. Dobbins sees that firsthand. Last season, he saw eight defenders in the box on 36% of his rushing attempts. That ranked fourth in the NFL behind Cordarelle Patterson, Tyler Allgier, and Derrick Henry. It makes sense because Marcus Mariota was a mobile quarterback who got less respect than Lamar Jackson, and Derrick Henry is the entire Titans offense so teams load up to stop him. Beyond that, the next is Dobbins.
If Dobbins were to start seeing lighter boxes things could get really interesting for him. The Baltimore Ravens may have found a way to make that happen. The key will be playing 11-personnel. The Ravens have always been the team to play multiple tight ends and fullbacks before their third wideout. That can be a good reason for opponents to stack the box. Now, the Ravens finally have a third wideout worth playing.
If Rashod Bateman and Odell Beckham can stay healthy, and they can utilize Zay Flowers out of the slot, teams will have to defend the Ravens completely differently. It is no surprise that the statistics show that most teams are far more successful out of 11-personnel, which is three wideouts, one tight end, and one running back. Opponents have smaller bodies in the game and are looking more for the pass.
With Todd Monken as offensive coordinator, and the Ravens paying big and drafting high at wide receiver, you have to think that this is the plan. If this is the case, the boxes will be lighter, and things will get easier for Dobbins.