Ravens’ Lamar Jackson expected less running, more throwing

Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer May 24, 2023, 4:43 PM ET

CloseUniversity of Maryland graduate Lives in the Baltimore area with his wife and son

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Lamar Jackson’s first impressions of the Baltimore Ravens’ new offense: more freedom and less reliance on his feet.

After his first practice with new Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken, Jackson said he was excited about the direction of the new scheme and believed a change in philosophy was needed to be successful going forward.

“Less running and more throwing,” Jackson said when asked what offense he would show.

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Jackson is the most prolific running quarterback in NFL history. His 4,437 career rushing yards was the most by any quarterback in their first five seasons – 1,230 more than Cam Newton, who finished second.

Baltimore is 16-1 when Jackson rushes for 90 yards or more, but the quarterback has also thrown an NFL-high 877 hits over the last five seasons.

Jackson smiled broadly when asked if his rushing efforts would be reduced this year.

“Of course, of course,” said Jackson. “Especially with the receivers we have.”

The Ravens transformed a group that ranked last in the NFL last season in receiving yards. Baltimore signed Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor in free agency and then brought on Zay Flowers in the first round.

Jackson indicated an increase in supporting players will change the focus of attack. In four seasons under former offensive coordinator Greg Roman, the Ravens ranked first in rushing attempts (2,194) and second last in passing attempts (1,945).

“Running can only take you so far,” says Jackson. “And I feel with this new era of teams and offense in this league, I feel we need that. Coach Todd Monken, what I’ve seen in his offense so far, looks amazing.”

Wednesday’s practice was Jackson’s first since he became the NFL’s highest-paid player at $52 million per season. He missed the last two weeks of voluntary on-field practice and missed the first organized team activity on Monday before reporting on Tuesday.

The Ravens kept Jackson out of team practice, but coach John Harbaugh said the team would “step it up” going forward.

“I’m glad he’s here, of course,” said Harbaugh. “He’s been in meetings. He’s been locked in the last two days, totally locked down. So that’s a good thing.”

In addition to a five-year, $260 million contract, the Ravens gave Jackson more leeway on the scrimmage line. He points out that Monken “basically just gives us a breach key, really.”

“You can change things up when you want,” Jackson said. “You look at the defense, and it doesn’t look right to you. You see someone attacking, you might want your receiver to do something different. The coach gives you the freedom to do whatever you want.”

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