The Baltimore Ravens are having a tougher time of things this year compared to 2019. Last season, they rolled over pretty much everyone in their path during the regular season en route to a 14-2 record and the top overall seed in the AFC. Lamar Jackson obliterated every opposing defense and won MVP. The Ravens were unable to win a playoff game, which makes the season a disappointment, but the assumption was that they'd continue on a similarly dominant trajectory this year after keeping most of their key contributors. That hasn't quite happened.
Baltimore sits at 6-2 with a firm hold on the top wild card spot in the AFC as the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers reign atop the AFC North. But it just hasn't looked as easy this year. One of the reasons why, according to Jackson himself, is that defenses know what the Ravens offense is going to do before the snap. Which doesn't seem great. As told to Rich Eisen:
Eisen asked Jackson if it was fair to say that the game isn't coming as easy to him this year. In response, Jackson said, "It's a lot with schemes. We going against defenses, they calling out our things, stuff like that. They know what we doing. A lot of that, sometimes stuff won't go our way if they beat us to the punch."
When Eisen followed up and asked if Jackson had indeed said defenses were calling out Baltimore plays before they happened, the reigning MVP confirmed. "Yeah. They definitely do. 'Run', stuff like that. Or, 'Watch out for this, watch out for that.' Sometimes that's what's going on."
That does not seem great, does it? It's one thing when LeBron James calls out set plays while on the court, like he apparently did against the Raptors in the playoffs a few years back. It's another to have a whole NFL defense knowing what's coming and saying so before the snap. That sort of thing won't exactly pave the way for another MVP performance from Jackson.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman was showered in praise for the way he utilized Jackson and designed one of the league's best offenses behind a unique player. Now it's time to prove he can adjust when everybody had a full year of tape to study.