Throughout his NFL career, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has been somewhat of an enigma but he’s found ways to succeed in his own way, and on Saturday, the Buffalo Bills will have to find a way to try and stop him.
Since missing Baltimore’s second matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 29, Jackson has started to find the rhythm he developed during his MVP campaign a season ago. He lit up the Browns for 163 passing yards, 124 rushing yards, and three total touchdowns. Then, a week later he threw for 243 yards and three touchdowns against the Jaguars.
His matchup against the Tennesse Titans in the first round was another prime example of what he can do as he won the first playoff game of his career. He threw for 179 yards and then ran for 136 yards and a touchdown in a 20-13 win.
So, with Jackson reaching MVP form at the perfect time of the season, what can the Bills do to limit his production? Bills defensive Jerry Hughes feels like it will come down to all of the little details.
“When you’re dealing with a dynamic offense with Lamar Jackson, somebody who can go from 0-60 and score that fast, the details are big,” Hughes said during a video conference call this week. “You got to just keep him contained, you got to stick with the game plan that we have, keeping him contained and then just rallying to the football. We talk about that, rallying to the ball and putting bodies on him early, and let him know that it’s gonna be a physical four-quarter ball game.”
In 15 regular-season games this season, Jackson completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 2,757 yards and 26 touchdowns, but he also tore teams up with his legs. He ran for over 1,000 yards for the second straight season and he also ran for seven touchdowns as the Ravens won their final five games of the regular season.
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Can The Bills Repeat Their Success From a Year Ago?
Before the Bills punched their ticket to the playoffs last season, they took on Jackson in the middle of his MVP campaign and put together one of the best performances of the season against him.
In a 24-17 victory over the Bills, Jackson threw for 145 yards and three touchdowns, while running for 40 yards. Almost half of his passing yards came on a 61-yard touchdown pass to tight end Hayden Hurst, which led to the Ravens taking a 17-6 lead.
The Bills had a good game plan for Jackson a year ago, but the Ravens have changed since then and they’ve also added rookie running back J.K. Dobbins into the mix. So, the Bills can’t totally rely on their game plan from a season ago but it’s definitely a start.
“They’ve added some wrinkles to their offense that we’re going to have to adjust to,” Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said during a video conference call earlier this week. “We realize we can’t just look at what we did last year and say that was good enough because they grew quite a bit as an offense and Lamar has grown quite a bit as a quarterback. So we’ll really have to do a good job of coming up with a good plan of trying to slow them down. They’re still the number one offense in the NFL.”
The Bills Have to Be Prepared to Stop The Run
When it comes down to it on Saturday, the Bills have to be prepared to stop the run as the Ravens come into the matchup with the No. 1 rushing offense in the league, running for 236 yards a game during the regular season.
So, after allowing opponents to run for close to 120 rushing yards per game in the regular season, and then allowing Indianapolis Colts to rush for 163 yards last Saturday, the Bills need to find a solution this weekend.
“We’ve got to be able to force this team to throw the football,” Poyer told buffalobills.com earlier this week. “Until we’re able to stop their running attack, they’re going to be running the ball all game long. We’re going to have to come in and prove that we can stop that running attack.”
Along with sticking to their fundamentals and paying attention to the little details, as Hughes said, the Bills also have to play smash-mouth football and be just as physical as the Ravens.
“If there’s anybody running the football you want to put bodies on them and just let them know it’s physical and that we’re going to be hitting you every time you run that ball,” Hughes said during the video conference call.
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