OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Lamar Jackson’s first impression of the new Baltimore Ravens offense: more freedom and less reliance on his legs.
After his first practice with new Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken, Jackson said he was very pleased with the direction of the new scheme and believes a change in philosophy is needed to be successful going forward.
“Less running and more throwing,” said Jackson when asked what he can show in this offense.
Jackson is the most prolific running quarterback in NFL history. His 4,437 career rushing yards are the most by any quarterback in their first five seasons – 1,230 yards more than Cam Newton, who ranks second.
Baltimore is 16-1 when Jackson runs for 90 or more yards, but the quarterback has also racked up an NFL-high 877 hits over the past five seasons.
Jackson had a big smile when asked if his rushing attempts will be reduced this year.
“Absolutely, absolutely,” Jackson said. “Especially with the receivers we have.”
The Ravens turned in a team that ranked last in the NFL last season in receiving yards. Baltimore signed Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor in free agency and then drafted Zay Flowers in the first round.
Jackson explained that the improved supporting cast will change the focus of the offense. In four seasons under former offensive coordinator Greg Roman, the Ravens ranked first in rushing attempts (2,194) and second in passing attempts (1,945).
“Running can only take you so far,” Jackson said. “And I feel like in this new era of teams and offenses in the league, I feel like we need that.
Wednesday’s practice was Jackson’s first since becoming the NFL’s highest-paid player at $52 million per season. He missed the last two weeks of voluntary on-field workouts and skipped the team’s first organized activity on Monday before reporting Tuesday.
The Ravens have held Jackson out of team drills, but coach John Harbaugh said the team will “ramp on him” going forward.
“I’m glad he’s here, of course,” Harbaugh said. “He’s going to the meetings. He’s been locked in for the last two days, completely locked out. So it’s a good thing.”
In addition to a five-year, $260 million contract, the Ravens give Jackson more leeway at the line of scrimmage. He pointed out that Monken “basically gave us the keys to the offense, really.”
“You can change things if you want,” Jackson said. “You see the defense, and it’s not right for you. You see somebody blitzing, maybe you want your receiver to do something different.