Tyrod Taylor and the Ravens' version of the read-option

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Taylor saw 12 snaps against the Jets on Sunday.

An offensive spark was needed for this Ravens group that has lacked much of a pulse this season.

Despite having a Super Bowl MVP quarterback with a $120.6 million contract, the offense has been inept most of the time. The passing game has been inconsistent and the running game has been non-existent.

When these areas trend downward, it's on the coaching staff to think of new ways to get players involved to move the chains.

Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor added an interesting twist on offense during during Baltimore's 19-3 win over the Jets on Sunday.

Taylor saw 12 snaps, lining up at both quarterback and receiver. He only finished with seven yards on four carries, though he did have a 17-yard first down in the first quarter. His yardage total due to two second-half runs where he lost 13 yards. He also caught a pass for six yards.

Taylor didn't have a direct outcome on the game but he does add a dimension teams will have to think about.

"Of course I love to throw the ball, but we've got a great quarterback here as well," Taylor told reporters after the game. "But any time I can get out there and make a play, throw the defense off — that was the main thing, just not knowing where me and Joe [Flacco] were going to line up — that can definitely throw them off, or different calls, things like that."

When Taylor was in the shotgun running the read-option, Flacco was split out at receiver. You could call it a version of the Wildcat, though the Ravens didn't run a jet sweep component as long as Taylor was the quarterback. Taylor has been the jet sweep motion man a couple of times this year, however.

What remains to be seen is how much the Ravens use this package moving forward. If Taylor begins getting more snaps, that may not sit well with Flacco, who admitted to reporters that he'd prefer to not line up across from defensive backs.

"It's good and fun for a little bit, but that's it," Flacco said. "I don't want to be lining up at Z and X, I want to line up behind center."

But here's the thing. Flacco hasn't had the year you'd expect from a quarterback that's paid like a top tier performer. But a lot of that is due to lack of a running game the Ravens have had all season. It's placed Flacco in some unfortunate situations where he's had to force throws and react quicker than he'd like.

And that's where Taylor fits into the equation. If the Ravens can add an offensive threat to this offense, now's the time to do it. For those that consider it a gimmick, what else do the Ravens have to lose? The traditional run has failed. Why not run some read-option here and there?

By no means am I saying Taylor should play more. But if the coaching staff feels they can use his talent appropriately to help pick up first downs and spark the offense, then by all means use him.

"We've talked about getting Tyrod more involved," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "It's a challenge. We've got a great athlete. He's a special athlete. He happens to play quarterback. He's a quarterback — I want to emphasize that. But he's also got other skills that he can help us with. We've been working it in. We worked on it in training camp, as you know. We didn't do much of it throughout the course of the season, but we felt like it was something that could really help our run game, especially against this defense, and that's how we used it."


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