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Ravens News 11/5: The MVP case and more

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New England Patriots v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson Experiment Just Bulldozed the Mighty Patriots - Robert Mays

The nuts and bolts of the Ravens’ scheme are a crucial part of why this team looks like an AFC contender, but Baltimore’s biggest achievement during the past two years has been the overhaul of its big-picture approach. Harbaugh had been the Ravens head coach for a decade by the time they drafted Jackson. It would have been easy for an established coach like him to be set in his ways, unwilling to find new ideas or embrace innovation. Instead, the Ravens have become arguably the most progressive, forward-thinking organization in the NFL. Earlier this season, Harbaugh cited analytics when discussing his aggressive tendencies on fourth down. The speed-centric team-building plan Baltimore deployed this offseason—which included drafting Marquise Brown in the first round—required a unified vision. And no other team has built an offensive system more conducive to maximizing its quarterback’s talents.

By knocking off the Patriots, the 6-2 Ravens now have a real chance to lock up the no. 1 seed in the AFC. It’ll be a tough road, considering they’re still one game behind New England, and the Patriots will play what amounts to a Division III schedule down the stretch. But even if they don’t secure home field, the Ravens proved on Sunday night that they belong in the NFL’s elite. And they’ve gotten there by using the most clear-eyed team-building plan in recent memory. As franchises try to find the right strategies to guide their futures, the Ravens’ approach has been illuminating. And their success is a welcome sight.

Lamar Jackson makes MVP case in Ravens’ victory over Patriots - Michael Silver

“The kid -- he’s so tough,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said outside his small office just beyond the team’s locker room. “He’s smart. He’s got a great feel for the game. And he learns fast. One of the things I’ve noticed about him is he never makes the same mistake twice.”

“It’s Tom, and he does some miraculous s---,” said cornerback Marcus Peters, acquired in a mid-October trade with the Los Angeles Rams. “That’s why he’s the best quarterback to ever play this f------ game; you feel me? But Lamar, he’s got heart. Say no more. No matter how many times people question him, he finds a way. His mentality is, I’m gonna do what’s best for the Baltimore Ravens-- whatever it takes.

2019 midseason NFL awards: Picking MVP, All-Pro teams, best rookies, more - Bill Barnwell

Most Valuable Player

3. Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

On 99 rush plays this season, Jackson has accrued just over 27 expected points worth of value.

After posting a Total QBR of 89 against the Patriots, Jackson’s 69.8 mark in Total QBR ranks fifth in the league.

Jackson’s ability to hold his own as a passer, lap the field as a runner and mostly avoid big hits and giveaways make him an incredibly valuable quarterback. He’s the first guy who has made the Patriots defense look bad this season.

What the Patriots Said After the Ravens’ Win - Ryan Mink

DB Devin McCourty

On early struggles with Jackson’s speed:

“Some of it was his speed, but honestly, we didn’t give up a whole bunch of huge plays to Lamar [Jackson]. It was their run game overall. There were times when we were good on Lamar, but then [Mark] Ingram split us, but then we’d be good on Ingram, but Lamar would get outside for seven or eight yards. Any time you play a team like this, you can’t replicate that. There are definitely some adjustments, but I don’t think it’s one of those things where he ran around the edge and we were like, ‘Dang, he’s fast.’ We knew he was fast.”

NFL Week 9 PFF Senior Analyst takeaways - Steve Palazzolo

RAVENS’ OFFENSE IS DIFFICULT TO DEFEND

The Ravens’ offense has been keeping defenses off balance all season, but the nation got to see it firsthand in primetime against a top-notch defense. The Patriots were torched by a rushing attack and misdirection passing attack that moves underneath defenders and keeps the front-seven guessing just enough to set up blocks and free yardage. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is the key to the attack, and he picked up 51 yards on 11 designed runs, but perhaps more importantly, a combination of Lamar’s run threat and good run blocking gave running back Mark Ingram 73 yards BEFORE contact on just 15 rushes. That’s 4.9 yards per carry before a defender touched the runner, and it led to a 115-yard outing for Ingram. Baltimore proved that they can hang with the best in the AFC.