Week 5 saw a very one-sided game between the Ravens and Bengals, however Lamar Jackson still struggled to move the ball. It was certainly not his best game, and attempting to pass the ball 37 times was a questionable decision from the coaching staff. Baltimore handedly won this game, but the puzzling decisions and unfortunate executions left an odd taste after the game.
Today, we’re gonna take a look at three plays from the Baltimore vs. Cincinnati game, and why these examine why they are important.
Our first play comes with 12:13 left in the first quarter on 2nd-&-3. Baltimore has a lot of big bodies on the field with only one wide receiver out wide left and the other, Duvernay, in the slot on the right side. The Bengals have a wall set up behind the line, discouraging any sort of run up the middle.
The play is a triple option, where Lamar Jackson can either keep it himself, give it to Ingram, or give it to Duvernay whose running in the opposite direction of the other two. Once the play starts and both Ingram and Lamar move to the right side, you can see every single Bengals defender move to that side, fully prepared to take on either. Jackson hands it off to Duvernay and he finds salvation in all that daylight, as well as an easy 42 yards.
This play is significant because it’s a perfect example of what Baltimore could be doing on a play-by-play basis. Everyone knows the strategy at this point, running shrouded in the misdirection of who and where will be running it. When the world predicts your misdirection, add more more misdirection. That’s what we have here, the play is perfect in design and execution.
I could watch 10 grown men all get faked out simultaneously every day for the rest of my life, but unfortunately, I have to work for a living.
Our next play comes later in that same drive on a 3rd-&-7. Jackson is in the shotgun with nobody else back there with him. The play sends Duvernay and Snead on in-routes over the middle as well as Andrews over the top. The linebacker in Duvernay’s zone was falling back, and left Duvernay open to potentially hit him in stride for a first down, but instead Lamar takes a shot to the covered Andrews — resulting in an incompletion and fourth down.
The reason I dislike this play isn’t because it’s an awful play call from the coaching staff, but Jackson makes a bad decision going for the big yardage rather than just trying to get seven yards. Even if they don’t get the full seven, they could always go for it on 4th-&-short, which is something they consistently converted last year. The play is designed to get Duvernay, Snead, or Andrews open in the middle of the field, depending on which one the defenders choose to cover. The defenders covered Andrews, but Lamar threw to him anyway. The play call was fine, the decision the quarterback made was not.
Our final play comes with 8:45 left in the third quarter on 2nd-&-7. Baltimore is up 17-0 in a game that’s been mostly lead by their dominate defense. Jackson is in the pistol with Edwards behind him and Ricard in motion just behind the line. As the play begins there is a clear disproportion in blocking assignments as they have one person double teamed and another person seemingly triple teamed on the left side. All of that leads to instant penetration from the defensive line, and Lamar never even has a second to throw.
This play is a symbol of a lack of planning, The Bengals only rushed four guys and the Ravens had six blockers, they should never be able to get pressure that fast in this situation. Clearly there was a miscommunication somewhere, or maybe the play is designed to have two double teams going at the same time. You could also point to Patrick Ricard, who instead of looking back to make sure that side was covered he just ran forward.
Baltimore’s pass blocking hasn’t been all that stellar so far in this season, and this is yet another example, maybe a bit of an extreme one, of someone not knowing their assignment.
The play was clearly designed to get either receiver on the right side open, yet the blocking seemed to all be stacked on the left side. Also they have an extra defender on the field in that referee, and that’s just unfair.