Ravens Have ‘Encouraged’ Lamar Jackson to Make a Key Change

Lamar Jackson

Getty The Baltimore Ravens have "encouraged" a key change from franchise QB Lamar Jackson this offseason.

He was named NFL MVP for the second time in his short career last season, but the Baltimore Ravens are still encouraging Lamar Jackson to get better. They’ve been working on a key change for their franchise quarterback this offseason.

It’s something ESPN’s Jamison Hensley noticed during OTAs and mandatory minicamp. The change has to do with Jackson getting to audible more often: “the Ravens are increasing his freedom at the line of scrimmage by challenging him to change plays, protections and even his cadence before the ball is snapped.”

Hensley saw how this change played out at camp: “With the Ravens defense regularly blitzing during minicamp, the coaching staff encouraged Jackson to keep an aggressive mindset, even if it results in a mistake.”

Having greater freedom to change the script pre-snap is something Jackson pushed for after the Ravens lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. Coaches responded favorably to his request and are determined to give Jackson what he needs to succeed.

Lamar Jackson’s Getting More Control After Chiefs Defeat

Losing to the Chiefs at M&T Bank Stadium prompted an in-house reassessment of the way the Ravens operate on offense. Hensley revealed how head coach “John Harbaugh sat down with quarterback Lamar Jackson and got his thoughts on how to take the offense to the next level. Jackson’s suggestion: Expanding the audibles at the line of scrimmage.”

The Ravens took Jackson’s words to heart and are delivering the change he wants. Perhaps insight from quarterbacks coach Tee Martin made it easier for Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Todd Monken to give Jackson more license to alter plays on the fly.

Martin said, “Lamar is outstanding at it, whether we’re going non-verbal on the road or whether we’re going verbal at home. We have a lot of different ones that gives us an advantage so that people don’t know when we’re snapping the ball and slowing them down a little bit.”

Increasing Jackson’s mental workload is another reminder of the faith the franchise has in its most important player. The increase is nothing Jackson can’t handle, with wide receiver Nelson Agholor telling Brian Wacker of The Baltimore Sun, “people don’t realise how cerebral Lamar Jackson is. The conversations he has with you, one-on-one, or about what he sees and what you may see.”

Jackson’s knowledge of the playbook and awareness of all the moving parts around him give him a great chance to take full ownership of a still-evolving offense. Letting Jackson riff with the formula will not only make the Ravens more unpredictable.

It will also increase the tempo for the offense and help Jackson and his supporting cast play quicker. That’s the natural progression for a unit getting faster at key positions.

Faster Ravens Offense Should Be Better

Greater speed comes from playmakers like second-year wideout Zay Flowers and third-year tight end Isaiah Likely. The latter’s “work in OTAs and minicamp gave Monken even more reason to polish those multiple tight end sets,” according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.

Putting a pass-catcher as gifted as Likely on the field more often will only increase the temptation for Jackson to audible.

So will the presence of rapid rookie Devontez Walker. The fourth-round pick in this year’s draft has the kind of vertical speed sure to give Jackson the confidence to take more deep shots.

Making Jackson a more dynamic passer and more decisive, nuanced quarterback is why the Ravens replaced Greg Roman with Monken as play-caller last offseason. A few more audibles is simply the next part of the process.

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