Ravens Made 1 Key Adjustment to Unleash Lamar Jackson vs. Texans

Lamar Jackson

Getty Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Raven made one key adjustment to beat the Houston Texans in the playoffs.

It took more than Lamar Jackson uttering a few curse words at halftime for the Baltimore Ravens to adjust against the Houston Texans in the AFC playoffs. Jackson needed a more subtle adjustment to beat the Texans’ blitz and spark a 24-point second-half salvo to seal a 34-10 win in the Divisional Round on Saturday, January 20.

The key adjustment was detailed by Ravens.com staff writer Clifton Brown: “First and foremost, it was important to get the ball out of Jackson’s hands quicker. His first two passes of the second half, to Nelson Agholor and Isaiah Likely, were both quick hitters that went for a combined 28 yards.”

Making the switch paid off immediately, according to NFL.com’s Judy Battista: “The game turned on the Ravens’ first drive of the second half, when Jackson completed three short passes.”

Jackson responded brilliantly to an up-tempo air attack. He was swift enough getting rid of the ball to throw for a touchdown and run in two more.

In the process, Jackson and the Ravens proved they can handle the blitz after Houston’s pressure schemes gave them plenty of trouble in the first half.

Lamar Jackson, Ravens Found Answers to Texans’ Blitz

Sending extra rushers was uncharacteristic for the Texans, but head coach DeMeco Ryans dialled the blitz early and often. The riskier tactic paid off, as Jackson spent most of the opening two quarters under siege.

As Next Gen Stats detailed, “the Texans blitzed on 13 of 18 dropbacks in the first half (72.2%), generating 10 pressures and 3 sacks on blitzes.”

Those numbers prompted NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks to urge the Ravens to “come up with an effective blitz plan or they will keep seeing blitz pressure from the Texans and any other team they will face going forward..”

Playing quicker was how the Ravens opted to deal with an aggressive Texans’ defense. The plan revolved around Jackson making instant reads and releasing the ball sooner.

He did both to the tune of “completing 13 of 18 passes against the blitz for 120 yards & 2 TD,” according to Next Gen Stats. The same source noted how “Jackson got rid of the ball more than a second quicker vs the blitz in the 2nd half (2.25 seconds) compared to the first half (3.51).”

Overall, the Ravens’ star passer was accurate with “all 9 of his quick passes for 77 yards, averaging 8.6 YPA.”

These numbers are significant on two levels. First, they will serve as a deterrent against whoever the Ravens face in the AFC Championship Game unleashing the blitz.

Second, statistics this impressive confirm Jackson’s development this season as a more composed and nuanced thrower. His improvements on the field are being matched by a more vocal approach off of it.

Lamar Jackson’s Verbal Tirade Also Helped Ravens Adjust vs. Texans

It wasn’t just the playbook the Ravens needed to adjust at halftime at M&T Bank Stadium. The team also needed an attitude adjustment, and Jackson spoke up to provide one.

The 27-year-old told reporters he did most of the talking at the break. Jackson’s spiel was composed mostly of language NSFW: “A lot of cursing at halftime. It’d be inappropriate if I said it right here.”

Jackson embracing his role as not only the face of this team, but its voice too, is another sign of his development this season. The arrival of Todd Monken as offensive coordinator, along with an improved receiver corps headlined by Agholor, Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Zay Flowers, have helped refine the physical aspects of Jackson’s game.

His maturation as a prime motivator in the locker room shows No. 8’s desire to finally add a Super Bowl title to his CV. Based on how the Ravens shrugged off the Texans’ attempts to rattle Jackson with the blitz, the task of stopping Baltimore’s championship surge just got harder.

Read More