During his first three seasons in the league, Baltimore Ravens’ running back Gus Edwards was instrumental in helping the offense field the most historic rushing attack in NFL history. Despite only starting 15 of a possible 47 games in his career including the playoffs, he’s been consistently productive and has improved his game each year.
Edwards has rushed for over 700 yards every year dating back to his rookie season and has a career average of five yards per carry. After signing a two-year extension worth $10 million last month, the former 2018 undrafted free agent out of Rutgers shared that his individual goals for the 2021 season include being more productive in both the running and passing game.
“My personal goals are I want to get 1,000 rushing yards, be more a part of the passing game, just do my job and improve in all my stats,” said Edwards following Tuesday's practice.
While the Ravens are the most dominant rushing offense, Dobbins is expected to be the featured back and quarterback Lamar Jackson has led the team rushing with over 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons. That doesn’t mean that Edwards’ goal of reaching the 1,000-yard threshold on the ground isn’t achievable especially with an expanded 17-game regular schedule.
However, a more attainable total would be reaching or eclipsing 1,000 yards from scrimmage which he could do with if he were to marginally increases his rushing total and contributes more as a receiver like he hopes will happen. If Dobbins were to miss any time for any reason, Edwards would have a golden opportunity to increase his chances of running for 1,000 yards exponentially.
Getting the running back position more involved in the passing game has been a wrinkle that Ravens coaches and players have talked about for months as being part of their expanded profile on offense.
Edwards led the Ravens’ running backs in receiving yards last season despite having half as many receptions as Dobbins and came up with some impressive catches down the stretch. Even though it hasn’t been highlighted as thoroughly as his slightly younger contemporary, Edwards has worked on and improved as a pass-catcher out of the backfield as well.
Gus Edwards with a monster catch and run pic.twitter.com/PDmqL7n1vh— Main Team (@MainTeamSports) December 27, 2020
”Gus [Edwards] has been working like J.K. [Dobbins] on the receiving stuff,” Running Backs Coach Craig Ver Steeg said. “I don’t know if you saw a couple of screens he’s caught [and] things like that in camp, but he’s going to bring that whole checkdown level of his play up a notch.”
Dobbins has been one of the most hyped-up and talked-about players on the team heading into the season, especially among the running backs. However, Edwards knows he will be heavily involved, embraces competition, and is impressed by the way that the whole position group has improved since the end of last season.
“I’m excited for it. Just seeing how much better he got, how much more comfortable he is in the system and all the things that he brings in, he brings out the best in me,” said Edwards. “He brings out competition in the room. Justice [Hill] looks really good, too. I came back, and I wasn’t shocked, but it was surprising to see how good those guys have gotten.”
The Ravens can already make a strong case for having one of the league’s top 1-2 punch at running back and with Jackson’s contributions, it’s more like a three-headed monster. If Edwards can reach or even come close to reaching his personal goals, he’ll make General Manager Eric DeCosta look brilliant once again for extending a key role player before they get a chance to hit the open market and it will likely mean that offense is firing on all cylinders.