On the heels of an unanimous MVP season, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh says that quarterback Lamar Jackson is going to make opposing teams’ secondaries “pay” this year.
“Those corners are going to be one-on-one and those safeties are going to be one-on-one against receivers, especially on some downfield throws, and we got to make them pay for it. We absolutely have to make them pay,” Harbaugh said during a question-and-answer session with Ravens’ season ticket holders on Thursday. “The ability to make them pay for tilting their defense toward stopping our run game with a really, really efficient passing game. I do believe that’s the next step of this offense. I really do believe Lamar is going to take the next step.”
Jackson, 23, has demonstrated unprecedented rushing ability and shattered the NFL record for quarterback rushing yards over 15 games last season which was vital to the offense’s success. Harbaugh has no plans to shift away from the running game, especially having recently drafted Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins, but plans to leverage it in concert with other facets of their scheme to exploit other vulnerabilities.
“I wouldn’t say we’re going to scrap the run game and I wouldn’t say we’re going to become a more conventional offense — that’s the last thing we want to do,” Harbaugh said. “We didn’t change the offense to scrap the idea that we want to cause people problems. We just want to get better at taking advantage of weaknesses.
“We should have guys more open and we should have bigger plays and we should create more opportunities in the passing game because of that run game.”
Jackson completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 3,127 yards and a league-leading 36 touchdown passes, but one of his few relative weaknesses was deep throw accuracy. According to ESPN, Jackson ranked 27th in completions on passes of at least 15 air yards which proved costly in their shocking divisional round loss to the Titans. He completed 6-of-17 deep pass attempts in the 28-12 upset.
The third-year former Louisville signal-caller will have pass catchers Marquise Brown, Mark Andrews and Miles Boykin, as well as speedy third-rounder Devin Duvernay from Texas who ran a sub-4.4 40-yard dash, at his disposal.