The Baltimore Ravens got absolutely obliterated on Sunday, as the Los Angeles Chargers came into town with revenge on their minds. With experience playing the Ravens under their belt, the Chargers were able to succeed. In the first matchup, Baltimore dominated in nearly all aspects of the game. Baltimore pounded the ground, moved through the air, and stifled all offensive production on the Chargers side of the ball. Roles were reversed on Sunday, however, as the Ravens were dominated by the Chargers.
Baltimore’s defense played as well as it could given the circumstances. The defense held the Chargers to just 244 yards and 23 points. Despite the defensive success, especially in the first half, Baltimore’s offense sputtered in the mud all game long. The Lamar Jackson led offense could not move the ball at all. At the end of the first half, Lamar Jackson finished 2/8 for 17 yards and one interception. He also rushed the ball 4 times for 31 yards but fumbled twice. Entering the last ten minutes, Jackson only completed one more pass. He was 3/10 for 25 yards, with one interception. His quarterback rating was zero. The running backs and offensive line were no help either. Edwards finished the day with just 23 yards on 8 rushes, and Dixon rushed for just 13 yards on six attempts. Jackson was also sacked seven times. Part of the reason for the sacks was Jackson’s hesitation to throw the ball away, but the largest part was the offensive line’s inability to clog leaks.
Despite the late-game comeback attempt, the Ravens lost their chance to win in the second quarter. As Tony Romo pointed out, the Chargers consistently brought three safeties into the box to counter the Lamar Jackson led offense. When that strategy was in play, the Chargers exposed the Ravens offense for what it is, a gimmick. Los Angeles was the first team the Ravens played twice with Lamar Jackson at quarterback, and as a result, were the only team to know how to stop it. This is, unfortunately, what the Ravens will see more of in 2019. If Lamar Jackson cannot develop into an effective passing quarterback, teams will follow the Chargers blueprint, and prevent him from running, and cancel out any positive effects he will have on the offense.
When the Chargers took the pressure out of the box, Jackson instantly became better. He started passing the ball effectively, and almost put the Ravens in a position to win. However, the fumble issue reared its ugly head once again. Lamar Jackson was strip-sacked on the final offensive play of the game. That fumble was Jackson’s 14th on the year, and the issue will be a focal point of Lamar Jackson’s development in the future.
The simple truth is that the Ravens were exposed, and Baltimore has a lot of thinking to do this offseason. How can they make this team two dimensional again? How can they build a sustainable offense around Lamar Jackson? Can they keep the defensive unit together? What changes need to be made? While no one can know what the Ravens will do in the offseason, there is one thing that they must do. Change. The Ravens need to adjust their outlook and fine-tune their scheme. The Ravens cannot go into next season, expecting the formula that brought them to the playoffs to work again. The Los Angeles Chargers figured out how to stop the team. The solution is on tape now, all teams will have access to it, and all teams will prepare to play the Ravens with that same gameplan. The gimmick, Navy-style offense, must change, and the Ravens must find a happy balance between the mobile quarterback game, and the sustainable pro-style offense if they want to return to the playoffs.