John Harbaugh Sends Message to Struggling Ravens RB

Ravens Ty'Son Williams

Getty Baltimore Ravens running back Ty'Son Williams looks on during a November 2021 game.

After season-ending injuries to running backs J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill, Ty’Son Williams was expected to build on his breakout preseason as the Baltimore Ravens‘ featured back this year.

It’s safe to say that the regular season hasn’t gone as planned for Williams, who gained 142 yards on 22 rushing attempts in the Ravens’ first two games, along with 45 receiving yards on five receptions. With almost 200 total yards across two games and averaging just under 6.5 yards per carry, Williams appeared poised to seize a leading role in Baltimore’s backfield, especially after a 34-yard touchdown in Week 1.

But after Week 2, he’s only received 11 carries in the Ravens’ next five games, which included two healthy deactivations in favor of veteran Le’Veon Bell. Coming out of the bye, he saw even less work, getting zero carries against both the Minnesota Vikings and the Miami Dolphins.

His time on the field has steadily gone down as well. Williams hasn’t played more than 30 snaps on offense since Week 2 and saw the field for zero offensive snaps on Thursday night against the Dolphins, even with an injured Latavius Murray ruled out.

Harbaugh Comments on Williams’ Playtime

Head coach John Harbaugh appeared to send a message to his young running back during yesterday’s press conference, telling media how WIlliams could earn a larger role.

“Every player has to contribute, perform and produce,” said Harbaugh, who then listed several abilities he expects from his running backs.

“If you’re a running back, you need to run hard, break tackles, get yards, pass protect, run the right route out of the backfield, catch the ball and get upfield,” he explained, but didn’t clarify which skills Williams needed to improve.

“If you’re in the rotation, special teams sure would help you,” added Harbaugh, who himself was a special teams coach for the Philadelphia Eagles for nine years.

Williams did play six special teams snaps on Thursday night, but they were the first of his career, indicating that he’ll need to work hard to earn a role with any special teams unit. Based on Harbaugh’s comments, though, the 25-year-old should do whatever he can to get on the punt or kickoff teams. He’s clearly lost the faith of his coaches, and the best way to earn it back is by delivering consistent, high-effort play outside of the spotlight on special teams.

Explaining Williams’ Demotion

It’s unclear exactly why Williams has fallen out of favor in Baltimore, but some have pointed to his goal line fumble against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2 as the reason for his demotion.

He showed great vision on the play, but a fumble, especially one just short of the end zone, is a surefire way for a player to get himself in Harbaugh’s doghouse.

The longtime Baltimore head coach has been quoted in the past saying, “You play the best players, and at running back, the best players don’t fumble,” per the Ravens’ Garrett Downing.

He’s also struggled in pass protection, despite spending the preseason capably blocking for backup quarterback Tyler Huntley.

With a myriad of injuries along Baltimore’s offensive line this season, pass blocking support from running backs has been crucial to protecting Lamar Jackson this season. But he’s received excellent grades from Pro Football Focus this season, earning a 89.5 pass blocking grade for the season that ranks first among all running backs.

With Bell and fellow early-season addition Devontae Freeman looking comfortable in the Ravens’ offense, and Murray expected back in the coming weeks, Williams might need to find a role on special teams just to stay active on game days for the rest of the season.


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