Twas the week before at 1 Winning Drive, the Ravens are back in the playoffs and Super Bowl dreams are alive. 

The Ravens passed another difficult road test with a Week 15 victory at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville. Lamar Jackson had perhaps the most “Lamar” game of his career to this point. Just as we look back upon Jackson’s 47 yard TD run in Cincinnati in 2019 as the signature moment of that season, we may very likely look back upon Lamar to Isaiah Likely for 26 yards in Jacksonville as the signature moment of 2023. (And yes, the pun was intended; sometimes you have to take the low hanging fruit) 

While the passing numbers for Jackson do not jump off the page (14-24, 171 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), the box score simply does not tell the proper story of this game. Jackson ducked, dodged and weaved his way around, past and through Jacksonville defenders to keep plays alive.  In addition to the 171 yards through the air, Lamar also rushed for 97 yards on 12 carries.  

While it was it was a joy to watch Jackson play Superman once again, that joy was dampened somewhat by the sight of rookie sensation Keaton Mitchell, laying in a heap on the EverBank Stadium turf. It was revealed on Monday afternoon that Mitchell did suffer a torn ACL, which will require surgery. 

Through all of the highs and lows, the Baltimore Ravens are 11-3 and here are some things to ponder as we move towards the holidays: 

  1. With their victory this past Sunday, the Ravens find themselves in a fairly ideal position in the AFC standings. Even if they should fall to the 49ers on Christmas, they will still control their own destiny for the number 1 seed in the conference, as well as the 1st round bye in the playoffs.  Furthermore, the Ravens are the odds-on favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl at +210 according to Draft Kings.

  2. There’s no way sugarcoat it; the loss of Keaton Mitchell is a devastating blow. The rookie has made quite an impact in his 6 meaningful games worth of action. Perhaps the toughest part of the injury is realizing that the spectacular play we’ve seen from Mitchell thus far is likely him just scratching the surface on his ability. While the loss of the rookie running back doesn’t derail the Ravens’ Super Bowl aspirations, it will certainly be an obstacle on their road to Las Vegas.
  3. So how do the Ravens and their league best rushing attack cope with the loss of their speedy rookie back? Coach John Harbaugh spoke about veteran Melvin Gordon, who will be added to the active roster. Last season in Denver, Gordon averaged 3.5 yards per carry in 90 attempts and fumbled 5 times. Gordon will provide depth but don’t expect too much from the 30 year old back. I anticipate Justice Hill will see an increase in his workload, as he provides some speed on the edges, compliments Gus Edwards’ more bruising style and is the Ravens best pass blocking back. Speaking of Edwards, while he leads the team in rushing TDs with 11, his yards per carry have dropped as the season has worn on. The Gus Bus was averaging 4.35 yards per carry in Weeks 1-9, but only 3.47 yards per carry in Weeks 10-14. Interesting that Edwards’ drop in per carry production coincided with Keaton Mitchell’s increased workload. It appears to me that once Mitchell began seeing more carries, there were more zone blocking concepts used to accentuate his running style. On the flipside, Edwards is a straight ahead type of back that works better when man blocking schemes are employed. With Mitchell no longer in the rotation, it will be interesting to see how Edwards’ production fares.
  4. With all of that said, the leading rusher on the team is still quarterback Lamar Jackson. While there haven’t been a ton of designed runs for Jackson in Todd Monken’s offense, the gifted quarterback has been very successful in his scrambles and is averaging 5.5 yards per carry on about 9.5 carries per game. (Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Banner discussed Lamar’s scrambling in great detail.) For the remainder of the season, there’s a chance that Jackson uses his legs a bit more to pick up any slack in the Ravens’ running game. Mitchell’s injury stings but lest we forget that the Ravens were leading the league in rushing prior to Mitchell breaking out in Week 9.

  5. On 3 or 4 occasions this past Sunday, Monken broke out a really interesting play design. Jackson was in the shotgun, flanked by a running back and TE. Right at the snap, Zay Flowers ran jet sweep motion, while Stanley and Linderbaum pulled. Flowers’ motion ended up being a decoy, ditto for the TE in the backfield. The back took the handoff and ran opposite the pulling offensive linemen. Putting a play like this on film gives opposing defenses so much to look out for and provides the offense with several options when it’s utilized down the stretch and into the playoffs. Just another example of the ever-evolving offense under Todd Monken. 

As we look forward to a Christmas night matchup of what could be a Super Bowl 58 against the San Francisco 49ers, I would like to extend a Happy Festivus to all and to all a good night. 

Jamie Sieck
Jamie Sieck

Jamie has been a Baltimore sports fan since he can remember. He grew up in Gwynn Oak and currently resides in Hampstead with his wife and 2 kids. He graduated from UMBC with a Bachelor of Arts in History. He’s currently employed at Verizon Communications in Hunt Valley.

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