Barry Sanders lit up highlight reels for years with the Detroit Lions and arguably inspired the next generation of NFL runners and perhaps even quarterbacks with some of his wild moves.
Now, Sanders is tipping his cap and deferring to the next generation of player in at least one sense. In examining the art of Lamar Jackson’s spin move with the help of ESPN, Sanders admitted that Jackson has the spin down and the Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback might be able to execute it better on the field than he ever could.
As Sanders said, he learned the spin from a young age, but did it as a way to try and carve his role in the game after watching the greats of his era do it.
“I was always trying to imitate some of those guys that I saw playing. Joe Washington, Chuck Foreman. I was always one of those smaller kids out there playing so I figured if it worked for those guys, maybe it will work for me. I think it’s one of those things where you understand that it’s part of your arsenal and it’s something you can do if needed. I can assure you that just like in my case, Lamar, he’s been doing that ever since he started playing football.”
In terms of Jackson’s spin, Sanders breaks it down simply and says there is still no competition whatsoever.
“Perfect timing. So beautifully executed. His is better. You can’t compete with current players. His is better.”
Lions fans might disagree, but forgive them for they are biased after watching Sanders for years. It’s clear that Jackson is just as special with the moves he can produce on the field, which is clearly something that Sanders knows given his thoughts on the topic.
Dalvin Cook Still Watches Barry Sanders Highlights
This generation of players still depends on Sanders for some major inspiration. Thankfully, the world has Youtube highlight reels for that, and one such player entranced by those performances from Sanders is Minnesota Vikings runner Dalvin Cook. Recently, Cook talked openly about the fact that he watches Sanders highlights for his own motivation and to learn the craft.
Dalvin Cook keeps Barry Sanders highlights on his iPad: "Because of how he sets his runs up and how he develops things in his mind. Every time I watch his plays, I see something different from him. I want to be as explosive as him, know that's not possible but" do my best.
— Andrew Krammer (@Andrew_Krammer) October 7, 2020
Obviously, as Cook admits, he doesn’t have all of Sanders’ moves, but he studies the tape to simply try and see what Sanders was seeing at the time or to try and make the type of moves he made on the field. As he admitted, he wants to be as explosive as Sanders, even though he knows it probably isn’t possible.
So far in his career, Cook has done a decent enough job to be explosive in his own right, putting up 2,528 rushing yards and 23 career touchdowns through Week 4 of the 2020 season. If he is able to improve upon that with some patented Sanders spice, there’s no telling how good he could become in the future.
Probably not as good as Sanders was, though. That’s something Cook would likely admit himself. It wouldn’t be a shock to hear Jackson was a huge fan of Sanders as well given the moves they share.
Analyst Explains Ravens’ 2020 Offensive Struggles
In 2019, the Ravens put up points at will. This season, that hasn’t happened as much, and ESPN pundit Dan Orlovsky thinks he has identified a reason why. It revolves around the way the Ravens are protecting the pocket with their offensive line.
Ravens win rates
Pass blocking (14th)
Run blocking (8th)
Pass blocking (2nd)
Run blocking (1st) pic.twitter.com/1D011511o0
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) October 8, 2020
“I said this in the offseason and it’s kind of showing itself. They miss Marshal Yanda. Marshal Yanda, the Hall of Fame right guard, was the foundation. Now there’s cracks in that offensive line. They’re not nearly as dominant especially internally. It starts with his replacement Tyre Phillips. Young player, hopefully he’s going to be a good player. He’s not moving the line of scrimmage, he’s getting beat on his 1 on 1 blocks. Their center (Matt) Skura is coming off a knee injury. Surgery on his knee. The internal play of that offensive line is different this year. They miss Marshal Yanda dearly. They’re also asking their fullback to go block out in space like they did with Hayden Hurst, and that isn’t happening as well.”
Orlovsky went on to present some statistics which prove up front that the team is struggling to protect and give Lamar Jackson a quality pocket to make plays from within. Yanda did retire this offseason, and his exit left a void up front the team could still be struggling to cope with.
As a whole, Baltimore’s offense still remains a quality group, but they are scuffling a bit and are nowhere near the league’s top offense 4 weeks into 2020. The Ravens have put up 341.5 yards per game, which is a low average. Their rushing offense has rumbled for 643 yards, but those totals aren’t aided by the team’s passing attack which has struggled a bit.
The changes up front could be taking their toll on the Ravens. If Phillips can continue to learn on the job and play solid football while Skura continues in his recovery season, the team could be alright in the end. If not, the Ravens could be in some trouble long term this year.
Certainly, as Orlovsky says, the line play is something to watch. Jackson might have to break out the spin cycle a few more times in order to shake free in 2020.