‘Tired’ J.K. Dobbins Sounds Off on Ravens Loss: ‘Never Going to Change’

Ravens RB JK Dobbins

Getty Ravens RB JK Dobbins is 'tired' of not being a feature part of the offense.

On Friday, January 13, 2023, two days before the team’s primetime debilitating 24-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Super Wild Card weekend, Baltimore Ravens starting running back J.K. Dobbins said that he wanted to put the onus of being the focal point on offense on himself. With their former unanimous league MVP-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson being ruled out for the sixth straight game, it sounded like a good strategy with the season on the line.

“Even when Lamar’s playing, I want it on my back,” Dobbins said in his press conference. “I want to carry the load. My teammates look at me and be like, ‘Alright, he’s ready. Let’s ride him.’ That’s how I always think since I was in Pee Wee football and I’m never going to change.”

Despite clearly looking like the team’s best playmaker on offense for most of the game with the way he consistently broke tackles and fought for every yard, especially after contact, the third-year pro wasn’t leaned on or turned to when the game was on the line.

Facing a third-and-goal from the Cincinnati 1-yard line, the Ravens elected to call a quarterback sneak that was disastrously executed. Backup quarterback Tyler Huntley tried to go overtop of his offensive line and got the ball knocked out of his hands and into the grasp of Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard who returned 98 yards the other way for a touchdown.

Dobbins believed that Huntley “should’ve never been in that situation” with both him and fellow power back Gus Edwards in their backfield. The 2020 second-rounder never got the opportunity to carry the ball inside the opposing 5-yard line the entire night and was especially upset that he wasn’t on the field for the offensive sequence that could’ve given the Ravens the lead.

“I don’t get a single carry,” Dobbins said in his postgame press conference. “I believe I would’ve put in the end zone.”

According to Sarah Ellison, the Ravens’ offense ran 10 plays inside the Bengals’ 5-yard line. Dobbins’ only touch in that part of the field was a two-yard pass that he scored a touchdown on with an incredible effort to stretch the ball across the goal line for the team’s first points of the game.

He finished with 105 yards from scrimmage on 17 total touches but didn’t receive another touch near the goal line the rest of the game after reaching the end zone. Despite leading the team in rushing with 62 rushing yards on 12 carries and finishing as their third-leading receiver with 43 yards on 4 receptions, he felt he should’ve carried the ball even more and continues to be frustrated with his lack of consistent involvement in the offensive game plan.

“I should be the guy,” Dobbins said. “I’m tired of holding that back. It’s the playoffs. Let’s go win the game. I’m tired of it. My teammates feed off me when I’m on the field. I should be out there all the time. That’s just not the case how it goes here.”

He feels like he is the type of dynamic weapon that can help the team win whenever he’s on the field which he believes should be way more often than he has when healthy during his time in Baltimore.

Dobbins missed all of the 2021 season with a knee injury he suffered in the final week of the preseason and after undergoing a scope midway through this past season, he looked faster, more explosive, and more elusive. In his first two games back, he ran for over 100 yards in each, showing the best was yet to come and that he was well on his way to returning and surpassing pre-injury form.

“I showed people the scope was an amazing thing to do,” he said. “Nothing can hold me down but God. I’ll be back next year. I’ll be better. I’m going to get back to my old self.”

J.K. Dobbins’ Rant Sounds Familiar

Dobbins isn’t the first young playmaker on the offensive side of the ball for the Ravens to be disgruntled with a lack of consistent and heavy involvement in the game plan.

In 2020, former first-round wide receiver Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown, who the team traded to the Arizona Cardinals during the 2022 NFL draft, took to Twitter to express his frustrations with what he felt was a limited role on offense in his second season in the league after a 28-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7 of that year.

The following season, Brown recorded career highs in targets (146), receptions (91), and receiving yards with his first of 1,000-plus according to Pro Football Reference. Despite the best statistical season of his career, the blazing speedster, who the team sorely missed this year after second-year pro Rashod Bateman went down, still wanted out of town and the Ravens obliged his request by parlaying it into the first-round pick that they would use to select standout rookie center Tyler Linderbaum.

With changes almost assuredly to come on the coaching staff this offseason, specifically and hopefully at offensive coordinator, it will be curious to see if whatever shift they make in their philosophy on offense, assuming they do, includes making Dobbins more of a focal point.

Even though both of the injuries that Jackson suffered that caused him to miss the last portion of the season in each of the last two years occurred behind the line of scrimmage on passing plays, taking some of the onus of carrying the ball off of him and getting Dobbins more involved would be in the best interest of all parties involved.

The only mystery that remains is that even if the Ravens deploy their rising star running back in a more featured role, he will be playing in a contract year this fall and a heavier workload in his fourth year might still not be enough to convince him to want to sign an extension or re-sign next offseason. If they don’t work out a deal with Jackson this or next offseason, they’ll need to keep the franchise tag available to retain his rights which could open the door for Dobbins to walk and sign elsewhere in the spring of 2024 to place willing to compensate and utilize him to his liking.

John Harbaugh Stands By Personnel Decision

The play before the infamous failed quarterback sneak and fumble, the Ravens handed the ball off to Edwards from the Cincinnati 2-yard line but he was stopped short of crossing the goal line. When asked why Dobbins didn’t receive as many red zone carries as his backfield mate and none inside the 5-yard line, head coach John Harbaugh stood by the decision and expressed his confidence in both players.

“Both of those guys can really run all of the plays,” he said in his postgame press conference. “Gus is a downhill, physical guy; he has a chance to slam it into the end zone. I thought we’d probably score on the play.”

Harbaugh believed that the play “had a chance to get in there” but both he and NBC color commentator, Chris Collinsworth gave the Bengals’ defense credit for making the clutch stop of Edwards a yard shy of paydirt. On the play, veteran safety Von Bell stopped him in his tracks and stood him up for a 1-yard gain.

“You have two great backs,” he said. “I don’t think you can nitpick, ‘Why was this guy in the game instead of that guy,’ or, ‘Why’d you quarterback sneak it instead of taking it back and handing it off four yards deep.’ That’s just after the fact, really. You call the best plays that you think you have, and you run them.”

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