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Ravens Offense - Evaluating the Receivers

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1 minute ago, M.10.E said:

Fair, just trying to play devils advocate a bit.

In regards to the bold, we lost a player that made that work. We have to replace 457 snaps with a guy we're pulling off the street at this point.

Yeah that’s why i’m really hoping one of Scarff, Wolf, or Breeland prove serviceable as the 3rd TE.

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8 minutes ago, Ray Reed said:

I get having the option of going spread when we need it. Sure. But I just don't get this sentiment that people have all seemingly unanimously agreed upon this offseason that "we obviously need to keep changing and adapting in the form of getting more WRs on the field/throwing it more". I don't see it. Again - why? Our success last year was based on the fact that NFL teams' personnel just cant match up with our heavy-set, option based offense...that's not going to change in one offseason. If it happens to change, and we find our heavy-set run game being consistently stopped next year? Absolutely, go ahead and get those 3 WRs on the field and open it up with more passing like people are suggesting. I just don't see the argument in going into next season making that the primary, initial goal/approach of our offense when we're not even positive our offense from last year that we've already mastered is ready to be stopped. 

But I think we can all agree that running Lamar 176 times is not a great way to protect him long term. 

Going into last season, the coaches really didn't know how good a passer Lamar was, so they designed a run heavy offense that would work even if Lamar had growing pains. But it turned out Lamar passed every test with flying colors. 

Now that they know his capabilities as a passer, I expect the offense to take advantage of that more, and put Lamar in fewer situations where he is at injury risk. 

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They installed an offense that suits their QB to a t and everybody bought in. Besides Hurst maybe but he gone.

So i do expect them to add to what has proven not only functional but top of the league. Increase the pass to run ratio, profit from a healthy WR1 who'll have a full training camp with his best buddy and find a balanced share between your 4headed monster at RB.

 

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7 minutes ago, AngusMcFife said:

But I think we can all agree that running Lamar 176 times is not a great way to protect him long term. 

Going into last season, the coaches really didn't know how good a passer Lamar was, so they designed a run heavy offense that would work even if Lamar had growing pains. But it turned out Lamar passed every test with flying colors. 

Now that they know his capabilities as a passer, I expect the offense to take advantage of that more, and put Lamar in fewer situations where he is at injury risk. 

Yep. The concern-trolling from Lamar skeptics about his health/sUsTaInAbILiTy moving forward is definitely over the top but at the same time, just from a long-term standpoint it's likely we do limit Lamar's running in some ways just to protect him where we can from wear and tear. That doesn't mean not utilizing his running ability, it just means being more strategic about it, and using it in different ways (for example, you can utilize Lamar's extraordinary running ability as much on a designed moving pocket pass play as you can in a read option between the tackles if executed correctly). Russel Wilson is a decent comparison here - the #'s themselves won't be the same, because Lamar is a more elusive and special runner than Russ is so you wouldn't ever want him to only run as much as Russ currently runs, but a gradual decline in rushing attempts while continuing to leverage his scrambling ability as a passer is a decent model for what Lamar's trajectory might look like over the next several years. 

Even Lamar himself said recently - I think in the interview where he announced the Madden cover - that he doesn't expect to run as much in 2020 as he did last year. 

It's evolve or die. Everyone's going to spend this offseason preparing to stop the 2019 Greg Roman/Lamar Jackson offense. Lamar's a special talent so it takes more than just a good gameplan/prep to stop him, but at the end of the day if we don't add new wrinkles to the offense to allow him and the offense to continue to grow, then we're not going to keep up with what defenses are doing to stop us. 

I also think it's understating the issue to say that it was "only" the Tennessee game that exposed the issues with our passing game. Scheme can only get you so far. As the Titans game showed, there will come a time in the big games where guys need to stand up for themselves and make plays on their own. Our offense was so dominant last year that it made life so easy for the receivers for the majority of the year so we ended up going into the playoffs really thinking guys like Seth Roberts, Willie Snead, and Nick Boyle would be perfectly fine to throw to in pressure situations and have them deliver but when the chips were down they turned back into the JAGs they are. That's gonna happen again in the playoffs if we don't actually develop the passing game, surround Lamar with the right weapons, and ensure that as a team we actually know how to play and act when we do need to air it out (as opposed to panicking like we did vs. TEN). It may seem like I harp on the WR situation too much but it's basically because the Tennessee game is what I always feared was a possibility with the receiving corps we had and it's only going to be an isolated incident if we learn from it. 

In regards to the original question here - how do we evaluate WR's - I don't think I really have a great answer there - or at least, I don't think there's really a numerical answer here. We know the offense is built different, we know even when Lamar runs less than he did in 2019 that we're still going to be running the ball a ton between him, Dobbins, Ingram, and Gus. What matters to me is really a more individualized evaluation of these guys - what are they bringing to the table? Are they making plays for Lamar, or is Lamar making plays for them, essentially? I trust Hollywood and Andrews to do the former, everyone else thus far falls more into the latter category, and I think for this offense to really hum you need at least one more receiver to be trusted as more than a complimentary piece but to be a playmaker on his own, someone who you trust to get separation, someone who makes contested catches, someone who doesn't need everything to break his way in order to deliver. That guy probably has to be Miles Boykin, at least in 2020, but Duvernay needs to be able to hit the ground running as well IMO (I don't expect much from Proche) because I think his skillset is important from a scheme perspective. 

I don't really have a minimum stat expectation from a guy like Boykin - I think it's just going to be more of a "I'll know it when I see it" kind of thing. Either he's going to be a weapon or he's going to be a JAG, and I think what route he goes will probably play an outsized role in our ability to go deep in the playoffs. 

 

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It might even be a good idea to play possum during the regular season and run it less. Even if we win 1 or 2 fewer games, we have the option during the playoffs to rely on Lamar's running more in pressure situations. 

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1 hour ago, BaltimoreTerp said:

Yep. The concern-trolling from Lamar skeptics about his health/sUsTaInAbILiTy moving forward is definitely over the top but at the same time, just from a long-term standpoint it's likely we do limit Lamar's running in some ways just to protect him where we can from wear and tear. That doesn't mean not utilizing his running ability, it just means being more strategic about it, and using it in different ways (for example, you can utilize Lamar's extraordinary running ability as much on a designed moving pocket pass play as you can in a read option between the tackles if executed correctly). Russel Wilson is a decent comparison here - the #'s themselves won't be the same, because Lamar is a more elusive and special runner than Russ is so you wouldn't ever want him to only run as much as Russ currently runs, but a gradual decline in rushing attempts while continuing to leverage his scrambling ability as a passer is a decent model for what Lamar's trajectory might look like over the next several years. 

Even Lamar himself said recently - I think in the interview where he announced the Madden cover - that he doesn't expect to run as much in 2020 as he did last year. 

It's evolve or die. Everyone's going to spend this offseason preparing to stop the 2019 Greg Roman/Lamar Jackson offense. Lamar's a special talent so it takes more than just a good gameplan/prep to stop him, but at the end of the day if we don't add new wrinkles to the offense to allow him and the offense to continue to grow, then we're not going to keep up with what defenses are doing to stop us. 

I also think it's understating the issue to say that it was "only" the Tennessee game that exposed the issues with our passing game. Scheme can only get you so far. As the Titans game showed, there will come a time in the big games where guys need to stand up for themselves and make plays on their own. Our offense was so dominant last year that it made life so easy for the receivers for the majority of the year so we ended up going into the playoffs really thinking guys like Seth Roberts, Willie Snead, and Nick Boyle would be perfectly fine to throw to in pressure situations and have them deliver but when the chips were down they turned back into the JAGs they are. That's gonna happen again in the playoffs if we don't actually develop the passing game, surround Lamar with the right weapons, and ensure that as a team we actually know how to play and act when we do need to air it out (as opposed to panicking like we did vs. TEN). It may seem like I harp on the WR situation too much but it's basically because the Tennessee game is what I always feared was a possibility with the receiving corps we had and it's only going to be an isolated incident if we learn from it. 

In regards to the original question here - how do we evaluate WR's - I don't think I really have a great answer there - or at least, I don't think there's really a numerical answer here. We know the offense is built different, we know even when Lamar runs less than he did in 2019 that we're still going to be running the ball a ton between him, Dobbins, Ingram, and Gus. What matters to me is really a more individualized evaluation of these guys - what are they bringing to the table? Are they making plays for Lamar, or is Lamar making plays for them, essentially? I trust Hollywood and Andrews to do the former, everyone else thus far falls more into the latter category, and I think for this offense to really hum you need at least one more receiver to be trusted as more than a complimentary piece but to be a playmaker on his own, someone who you trust to get separation, someone who makes contested catches, someone who doesn't need everything to break his way in order to deliver. That guy probably has to be Miles Boykin, at least in 2020, but Duvernay needs to be able to hit the ground running as well IMO (I don't expect much from Proche) because I think his skillset is important from a scheme perspective. 

I don't really have a minimum stat expectation from a guy like Boykin - I think it's just going to be more of a "I'll know it when I see it" kind of thing. Either he's going to be a weapon or he's going to be a JAG, and I think what route he goes will probably play an outsized role in our ability to go deep in the playoffs. 

 

1. I think this is where I'm having a disconnect. It's all well and good to say stuff like "we have to evolve" without analyzing the implication of that statement - why do we need to evolve to such a level that our new offense features more 3 WR sets and less of what worked for us at a historically efficient level last year? Gary Kubiak has run the same offense for 20 years (and Shanahan Sr. even longer). Defenses have been "preparing" to stop that style of run game/play action boots for 3 decades. But guess what? It still works. Because Mike Shanahan/Gary consistently matched their personnel to fit their offense perfectly and they had a consistent identity to lean on. Did Gary Kubiak's offense need to evolve whenever they lost a playoff game? Of course not. The team just played a poor game. Peyton Manning/Tom Moore ran the same offense in Indy forever. They were consistently 14-2/12-4 type teams every year at the top of the offensive ranks. Did they need to evolve or face death whenever they lost in the playoffs? No. It was almost always Peyton crapping the bed in pressure situations. They just supplemented that offense with a more consistent running game when they needed to, and that's when they finally won the SB in 2006. That's what we need to do with this offense. Supplement it with a more diverse passing game when we need to throw. Not completely evolve it into some spread 3 WR offense that isn't conducive to leading our team to the most important thing in football: consistent wins. 

2. If having such a dominant offense was our biggest issue come playoffs last year, I'll sign up for that every year. The plays were there to be made last year. We dropped an insane amount of passes that would have gotten us back into that ball game. Replace Seth Roberts with Duvernay or Proche and maybe we aren't even having this conversation. I just think it's absurd that because we had players drop (open) passes in our playoff game last year that we need to "evolve or die". I think it's more likely a case of "get players that can catch or die". The players didn't crap themselves because of the scheme last year. The scheme had Roberts wide open for a 60 yard TD in that game. That same scheme was plenty pass-driven enough to allow the players to make big plays in big moments earlier on in the year...like Lamar closing out the Cardinals game with a 30/40 yard pass to Hollywood on 3rd and 11, or Lamar and the boys scoring 2 TDs inside the two minute warning in the 2nd Browns game doing nothing but dropping back and throwing. 

If you look back at Greg Roman's history as an offensive coordinator his subsequent seasons are never as successful as his first or second season with a team when he has a mobile quarterback (Kaepernick and Taylor). It's not a coincidence in my mind that as he "opens" up that offense from a run-centric team in his first year or two, and as he throws it more and more, the overall offensive success decreases. 

It would be a real shame if our team scores significantly less points next year, and doesn't even get the opportunity to host a divisional playoff game like last, because we were too concerned with being yet another step ahead of the league when that same league hadn't proven they could stop us in the slightest the previous year save one game where the players played terribly. That's where I'm at. Changing something that worked at a historic level last year just because teams might stop it in the future? That doesn't make a lick of football sense to me. Make them prove they can. Then open it up if you have to.

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Posted (edited)

I don't think anyone here is clamoring to run 3 wide as our main offense. Just to add another dimension to our offense that way we're harder to stop. It's tough to attack all parts of the field when you have 2 TEs and a FB/3 TEs. With a more spread out offense you can attack every part of the field.

Edited by M.10.E

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24 minutes ago, Ray Reed said:

1. I think this is where I'm having a disconnect. It's all well and good to say stuff like "we have to evolve" without analyzing the implication of that statement - why do we need to evolve to such a level that our new offense features more 3 WR sets and less of what worked for us at a historically efficient level last year? Gary Kubiak has run the same offense for 20 years (and Shanahan Sr. even longer). Defenses have been "preparing" to stop that style of run game/play action boots for 3 decades. But guess what? It still works. Because Mike Shanahan/Gary consistently matched their personnel to fit their offense perfectly and they had a consistent identity to lean on. Did Gary Kubiak's offense need to evolve whenever they lost a playoff game? Of course not. The team just played a poor game. Peyton Manning/Tom Moore ran the same offense in Indy forever. They were consistently 14-2/12-4 type teams every year at the top of the offensive ranks. Did they need to evolve or face death whenever they lost in the playoffs? No. It was almost always Peyton crapping the bed in pressure situations. They just supplemented that offense with a more consistent running game when they needed to, and that's when they finally won the SB in 2006. That's what we need to do with this offense. Supplement it with a more diverse passing game when we need to throw. Not completely evolve it into some spread 3 WR offense that isn't conducive to leading our team to the most important thing in football: consistent wins. 

2. If having such a dominant offense was our biggest issue come playoffs last year, I'll sign up for that every year. The plays were there to be made last year. We dropped an insane amount of passes that would have gotten us back into that ball game. Replace Seth Roberts with Duvernay or Proche and maybe we aren't even having this conversation. I just think it's absurd that because we had players drop (open) passes in our playoff game last year that we need to "evolve or die". I think it's more likely a case of "get players that can catch or die". The players didn't crap themselves because of the scheme last year. The scheme had Roberts wide open for a 60 yard TD in that game. That same scheme was plenty pass-driven enough to allow the players to make big plays in big moments earlier on in the year...like Lamar closing out the Cardinals game with a 30/40 yard pass to Hollywood on 3rd and 11, or Lamar and the boys scoring 2 TDs inside the two minute warning in the 2nd Browns game doing nothing but dropping back and throwing. 

If you look back at Greg Roman's history as an offensive coordinator his subsequent seasons are never as successful as his first or second season with a team when he has a mobile quarterback (Kaepernick and Taylor). It's not a coincidence in my mind that as he "opens" up that offense from a run-centric team in his first year or two, and as he throws it more and more, the overall offensive success decreases. 

It would be a real shame if our team scores significantly less points next year, and doesn't even get the opportunity to host a divisional playoff game like last, because we were too concerned with being yet another step ahead of the league when that same league hadn't proven they could stop us in the slightest the previous year save one game where the players played terribly. That's where I'm at. Changing something that worked at a historic level last year just because teams might stop it in the future? That doesn't make a lick of football sense to me. Make them prove they can. Then open it up if you have to.

Honestly I think you’re building a strawman of your own design. “Evolve or die” doesn’t state we need to “run 3 WR sets all game or die”... it’s simply that if that’s our best personnel package at producing offense then we’ll do it.

However if running Boyle, Andrews, and Ricard is the best alignment for success then we will do it. Or if running Boyle, Andrews, Ricard, and Tyre Phillips as an eligible “TE” so as to run the ball down the defenses’ throats... we will do that.

I don’t know a single person on this forum that suddenly thinks Lamar Jackson is going to start passing it for 5000 passing yards. But he threw for 3100 yards with his best WR running on a gimpy foot for most of the season. If Hollywood Brown can be healthy moving forward and a reliable #3 receiver emerges unlike last season, think of how many more deep passes he might connect on for big plays. So even with the rushing attack largely holding serve, the passing attack can increase its efficiency. What if Lamar goes from 66% completions to roughly 69% or his completion% stays the same but he connects on more deep passes or perhaps he’s forced to not sit out 3 full games on the season... that will equate alone to more potential passing production without the need to “revamp our offense”.

So when Lamar and our offense is projected to “take a step forward” it’s adding even more passing plays to take advantage of situations where the defense is giving us said plays. If the defense is putting 9 in the box to stop our rushing attack... why would we continue to run it because it worked last year? And why would we not ALREADY have a plan in place for said situation? Why would we not simply hit Hollywood or Duvernay on a 9 route to take advantage of the defense’s aggression?

We just lost Hayden Hurst out of the offense. We knew he had automatic hands but was underutilized to what he would find sufficient (which is why we had to get rid of him before he became a cancer). We don’t know what will produce the best offense. Is it using our #3 TE with a Jacob Breeland? Is it running Duvernay in the slot? Is it running 6 OL, Boyle, Ricard with a RB, WR, and Lamar? What’s the formation that gives us the best advantage? Because if our #3 TEs can’t display the same level of blocking as Hurst and cost us plays... what would be the point of sticking with that offense.

The 2007 NE Patriots had arguably the best offense in NFL history and when they lost a player they switched their offense to focus on  the TEs. Because of their agility is why they win SBs. You just listed a bunch of teams that put up huge numbers in the regular season that haven’t been able to be agile when it coubted and that’s why they lost those playoff matchups.

If the Colts had a better running game in those other seasons, like the Patriots, would they have had to rely on Manning alone beating elite defenses with the pass in the playoffs? Manning and Brady’s playoff stats are very similar, pretty neck and neck IIRC, but one guy had a team that was more agile offensively and the other didn’t. The Patriots are that team and that’s who we should aspire to be like... not a bunch of offenses that usually succeed in the regular season but get stopped come postseason time. Which again, isn’t saying we even have to “change” but simply to “add wrinkles”, assuming the TEs we bring in can capably replace HH’s role on offense.

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^ I’m 100% for everything you said if we determine that to be the most effective offense for our team moving the ball next year. No doubt.

But people throughout this whole offseason have seemingly already deemed the 3 WR, more spread-out attack - here, in the media, and on social media - as the offense that will move the ball the best for us next year. Like it’s a foregone conclusion; like it’s somehow a natural progression from our offense last year. I don’t necessarily find that to be the case, and that’s my main point, i would say. 

If it works out that way, great. 

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50 minutes ago, Ray Reed said:

^ I’m 100% for everything you said if we determine that to be the most effective offense for our team moving the ball next year. No doubt.

But people throughout this whole offseason have seemingly already deemed the 3 WR, more spread-out attack - here, in the media, and on social media - as the offense that will move the ball the best for us next year. Like it’s a foregone conclusion; like it’s somehow a natural progression from our offense last year. I don’t necessarily find that to be the case, and that’s my main point, i would say. 

If it works out that way, great. 

Oh... I tend to not discuss football on social media, so I’m ignorant towards what goes on there. I belong to that Ravens Facebook group and I tend to see so many bad takes that are terrible too often for my tastes so I’ve obstained..

But yeah, I think had Hurst still been here and comfortable with his role we would’ve definitely kept largely to the same offense just with (hopefully) having upgraded the receiver spots. But at this point we will have to see what is the best units on the field.

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1 hour ago, Ray Reed said:

^ I’m 100% for everything you said if we determine that to be the most effective offense for our team moving the ball next year. No doubt.

But people throughout this whole offseason have seemingly already deemed the 3 WR, more spread-out attack - here, in the media, and on social media - as the offense that will move the ball the best for us next year. Like it’s a foregone conclusion; like it’s somehow a natural progression from our offense last year. I don’t necessarily find that to be the case, and that’s my main point, i would say. 

If it works out that way, great. 

At least the Ravens are acquiring the personnel so that if they choose to go that way, they can. Last year, it wasn't really an option. 

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7 hours ago, Ray Reed said:

^ I’m 100% for everything you said if we determine that to be the most effective offense for our team moving the ball next year. No doubt.

But people throughout this whole offseason have seemingly already deemed the 3 WR, more spread-out attack - here, in the media, and on social media - as the offense that will move the ball the best for us next year. Like it’s a foregone conclusion; like it’s somehow a natural progression from our offense last year. I don’t necessarily find that to be the case, and that’s my main point, i would say. 

If it works out that way, great. 

While I don't follow fans/medias Ravens takes on social media, I haven't seen this forum talk about an offense with more receivers on the field. We talked about it last year, that it will be something that we need to have in our playbook. With a defense that have to cover 3 wide receivers, there will be less blockers but also more room for either runningbacks or Lamar to scramble.

That is usually how Josh Allen does his damage with his legs,

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