It’s the Fourth of July, a day to celebrate America, spend time with friends and family, and of course, watch glorious displays of pyrotechnics: fireworks! While Independence Day is filled with fun activities, you may find yourself in a sticky situation. At your family’s cookout, the topic of football will inevitably come up, and your weird Steelers fan uncle will probably start to boast about his beloved bumble bee impersonators. You’re going to need ammunition to shoot down his crazy idea of Steeler superiority, and I have the perfect solution. Tell your crazy uncle about the Raven who is bound to put on a show, and make the most fireworks in the 2019 season.
It’s easy to say that the Baltimore Ravens will entertain in 2019, but which player will entertain the most? This is no easy question to answer. Obvious choices include Lamar Jackson, Marquise Brown, and Earl Thomas. But if you really want to impress your uncle with your unmatched football knowledge, you should tell him that it will be rookie running back, Justice Hill.
That’s right, I said it. Baltimore’s fourth-round selection will be the most explosive player on the field.
“But Christopher,” the comments will say, “[insert Raven here] is OBVIOUSLY the most explosive player on the field, you just don’t know what you’re talking about, as always.”
Look, I get it, Lamar Jackson, Marquise Brown, and Earl Thomas will bring a whole new meaning to the word “exciting” in Baltimore. But that doesn’t mean Justice Hill won’t be the most explosive player on the field. There is one simple reason Justice Hill will make the most fireworks this year, and if you understand it, you’ll begin to think the same way as I do.
Justice Hill changes this offense.
Do you remember last year, when the Ravens offense focused on dominance through an unstoppable ground attack? Yeah, you should, and despite Baltimore’s insistence on developing a better passing attack, the Ravens are not going to change their core offensive philosophy. In fact, they are doubling down on it. New offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, knows how to make run games work, and his experience with mobile quarterbacks will allow him to tailor his ground and pound style of offense to Lamar Jackson.
And Justice Hill.
Here’s the deal. In 2018, the rushing attack had two dimensions. Baltimore would either hand the ball off to Gus Edwards or Kenneth Dixon up the middle, or Lamar Jackson would run it himself on the outside toward the sideline. Yes, there were the occasional outside run handoffs, but Baltimore was simply more effective shooting halfbacks up the middle.
This is no longer the case. In 2019, the Ravens rushing attack will be three dimensional. Justice Hill was the fastest running back in the draft class and adds capability as an outside runner. With great diversity in runners, the Ravens can create brand new packages, schemes, and plays that will play to the strengths of each runner. Baltimore can now draw up a formation that includes Lamar Jackson, Gus Edwards or Mark Ingram (another downhill runner), and Justice Hill all in the same backfield.
Even if defenses anticipate a run before it happens, they will still be at a disadvantage, as it will be impossible to predict where the ball goes. Does Edwards/Ingram run it up the middle, does Lamar fake the handoff and run, or does he toss it to Hill in a triple option play? The possibilities are infinite.
Furthermore, the Ravens are bound to transfer touches from Lamar Jackson to Justice Hill. Jackson ran the ball 119 times in 7 regular season starts. Jackson was very effective on the ground, but the Ravens know better than to risk injury to the starting quarterback if unnecessary. Jackson will still run the ball, for sure, but the rate at which he does it will fall well below 17 times per game. Hill, the only other true outside run threat on the team, is bound to receive rushing responsibilities once given to the starting quarterback.
So, with the increased diversity in the backfield and the explosive nature of a fast running back bound to receive a high number of touches, it is safe to say that Justice Hill will be an explosive player for the Baltimore Ravens. So when your crazy Steelers fan uncle tries to talk football, make sure you tell him to be ready for Justice Hill come October.