Jackson Ready for Playoff Run

Lamar Jackson photo

Lamar Jackson hopes to start fast in the Baltimore Ravens AFC Divisional Playoff matchup against the Tennessee Titans Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iif2NWLiZZI

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson helped his team become the AFC’s No. 1 seed in the playoffs. But can he get them to the Super Bowl?

By Chris Murray

For the Philadelphia Sunday Sun and the Chris Murray Report

Owings Mills, Md.—For all the rave reviews and the talk of having revolutionized football that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has received during the 2019 regular-season, the big question for the former Louisville star could get answered this weekend.

Can he lead them to a Super Bowl?

Jackson, the odds-on favorite to be NFL’s Most Valuable Player, has a tough task ahead of him in the Ravens AFC Divisional Playoff matchup against a very physical Tennessee Titans squad looking to spring a huge upset Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

In a season where he’s been mobbed by children at a local mall, named an All-Pro and starred on just about every highlight reel on every sports media outlet from ESPN to YouTube, Jackson said he is focused on the single goal of a Super Bowl win.

“It’s cool, It’s cool … I’m just trying to work. I want a Super Bowl,” Jackson said. “All the accolades and stuff like that, I’ll cherish that, but I’m trying to chase something else right now. … I’ve been wanting a
Super Bowl since I was a kid. That’s why I play the game because I want to win.”

Throughout the season, Jackson has become the ultimate weapon as a duel-threat quarterback with record-setting numbers. In his first full season as a starter, he set an NFL record for rushing yards in a single season by a quarterback by gaining 1,206 yards, breaking a record held by former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.

“The new era that we’re in now in the NFL, he knows his matchups,” said Ravens veteran safety Earl Thomas, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Seattle Seahawks in 2013. “He uses the big tight ends, throws where only they can catch the ball and we all know what he can do once he starts to run.”

When the season began, more than a few NFL experts wrote Jackson off as a “running quarterback”, but he’s changed the minds of many in that regard. Jackson passed for 3,127 yards, completed 66.1 percent, was third in the league in quarterback rating, and led the league with 36 touchdown passes.

“He’s good at everything, he was already so good at everything,” said tight end Mike Andrews, who caught 64 passes from Jackson for 852 yards and 10 touchdowns. “I think mentally the quarterback position is so hard and so tough. After a year of being in the system, seeing defenses in the NFL, he’s been able to learn and been able to grow mentally in the whole football mindset.”

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said Jackson’s running ability and his knack for getting the ball in tight spaces is a big help the Ravens in the red zone.

“He can also extend the play, hold the ball, move if he has to and he’s really done well with that,” Harbaugh said.

Jackson’s teammates like wide receiver Willie Snead IV said Jackson is driven by a desire to win and will take all the necessary to get there like working with his receivers after practice and during the offseason prior to training camp.

“It’s all set on Lamar. He wants to be great because of his work ethic and as a competitor. He wants to be the best. He wants the best for us,” Snead IV said. “He wants to see us all eat. I’m on board for that.”

But the true worth of Jackson’s season will be having to do it under the spotlight of a single-elimination playoff run where every opposing coach, including Saturday’s opponent, has seen him on tape and is scrutinizing his every step, hoping to find some weakness in what he does to exploit throughout the course of the game.

As he approaches his second playoff game, Jackson says he’s more prepared than he was during last January’s Wild Card loss to the Los Angeles Chargers and he’s ready for anything the Titans throw at him.

“I’m not a rookie anymore, I’ve been around. I’ve seen everything that they can bring …  And we’re going to see it,” Jackson said. “Can’t start too late. You have to attack fast. It doesn’t really matter what quarter is, first or second, you have to attack. You have to finish the game strong. You can’t just go into the game playing half-assed.”

During the team’s organized teams last spring, Jackson said Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale has been testing him in practice by throwing a number of blitzes and disguised coverages at him.

“(Martindale) used to disguise crazy blitzes during OTAs and stuff like that, and it just helped me a lot, knowing where guys would be and knowing the area of the field. I just have to get the ball out where my receiver can get it or no one can.”

Ravens backup quarterback Robert Griffin III said the Ravens coaching staff has done a good job of preparing Jackson for any kind of wrinkle the Titans or any other teams will throw at him during the course of the game.

“Whatever they play we can adjust to that in-game so we’re not sitting ducks like ‘they played man-to-man all season and now they’re playing zone, what are we gonna do?’ Griffin III said. “When you do put stuff on tape and teams do something to take that away, you can adjust to give them a new problem.

“I think that’s what we’ve done all year (with Jackson). We continue to give teams new problems with Lamar running, Lamar throwing, our receiver packages, our tight end packages, jet sweeps … we keep giving teams new problems. …We want to be the math that they can’t figure out.”

Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said he has been using backup quarterback and former starter Marcus Mariota simulating Jackson to prepare his defense. But that’s not enough to fully capture Jackson’s speed in-game conditions.

“Other than try to tie (Jackson’s) shoelaces together, not many people have had success,” Vrabel said with a little tongue and cheek during a phone interview with the Baltimore-area media. “We’ll have to prepare and try to get our players as ready as possible to defend not only him but (running Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards.”

If you want to see what happens, catch the game on Saturday night at 8pm on CBS-3.

Unstoppable? Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers are a Defense’s Worst Nightmare

Can Baltimore Slow  Down  Kaepernick and 49ers  Pistol Offense?SB47_Primary_National_RGB

By Chris Murray

for the Chris Murray Report

In many respects, Super Bowl XLVII will be a matchup of two distinct offensive philosophies.  It’s the San Francisco 49ers new fangled Pistol read-option offense, which is taking the NFL by storm, versus the Baltimore Ravens conventional drop-back passer style of offense.

If the 49ers win this game, there will be a radical rethinking of how teams run their offense in the NFL run their offenses in the way Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense did back in the 1980s.

The 49ers Colin Kaepernick may be fast, but he's smart enough to have a firm grasp of the 49ers Piston Read-option offense.

The 49ers Colin Kaepernick may be fast, but he’s smart enough to have a firm grasp of the 49ers Piston Read-option offense.

There are already teams around the league-the Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers- that use a version of this read-option offense. New Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is looking to install his version of that offense as well.

In the Pistol read option formation, the quarterback is lined up about four yards behind the center while the running back lines up directly behind the quarterback so that the defense doesn’t see the running back while the quarterback can either run, handoff to the running back or even throw a play-action pass.

The 49ers, led by athletic quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have averaged 476 yards in their two playoff games using their Pistol read-option offense. Perhaps the biggest splash that Kaepernick and the read-option have made thus far was the 49ers divisional playoff win over the Green Bay Packers.

In that game, Kaepernick literally ran the Packers out of the playoffs with a record-setting performance. He rushed for NFL- record 181 yards (most ever by a quarterback regular season or playoffs) and scored two touchdowns. He passed for 263 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. The 49ers compiled 579 yards of offense.

Against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship, so much attention was on Kaepernick keeping the ball and running it that the Falcons forgot about Frank Gore, who gained 90 yards rushing on 21 carries, and tight end Vernon Davis caught five passes for 106 yards. Kaepernick was an efficient 16-of-21 passing for 233 yards and one touchdown pass.

So what is it about the read-option that keeps defensive coordinators and the players the coach up late at night?

“They can do so much and do so many things,” said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. “They can pass out of it. They hand the ball off. There are so many things they can do with it. They can even bring in the trick plays. You have to stay fundamentally sound to defend so many things and play.”

That’s because the read option makes teams have to defend the entire field. In effect, it’s 11-on-11 football where the quarterback serves as an extra blocker by reading where the defender is going to go. In the 49ers read option, Kaepernick can read the ends and linebackers. If those ends and line backers converge on him, the ball is going to the running back or it might go downfield on a pass play.

“It can force a defense to play certain ways that they might not play,” said 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. “It is another way to put pressure on the defense. That is what we want to do. We want to try to put pressure on 11 people on the field. Make it a bad day for them.”

Added Kaepernick: “You’re actually blocking the defender by reading him.”

Even worse for the defense if the offense doesn’t the run ball, the other option for the quarterback is to pass the ball.

“It freezes them a little bit. It gives you a little bit more time,” Kaepernick said of his running ability. “If it’s just a split second, that’s an advantage for the offense.”

In a Dec. 4, the Ravens had trouble stopping the Washington Redskins and Robert Griffith III and their version of the read option. The Redskins rolled up 469 yards of total offense. RGIII passed for 242 yards and one touchdown and also ran for 34 yards.

Meanwhile, rookie running back Alfred Morris gained 129 yards rushing and the Redskins came from behind to beat Baltimore in overtime. There was something the Ravens learned from that experience that could serve them well against the 49ers on Sunday.

“It’s really hard to play that type of package as individuals,” Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said.  “You have to play it as a group. I said that if you were to try to slow it down, that is the only way to slow it down, is to play it as a group. Make sure before the ball is snapped, everybody is on the same page.”

Unstoppable? Colin Kaeper and the 49ers Read-Option is a Defense’s Worst Nightmare

SB47_Primary_National_RGB

Can Baltimore Slow  Down Colin Kaepernick and 49ers  Pistol Offense?

for the Chris Murray Report

In many respects, Super Bowl XLVII will be a matchup of two distinct offensive philosophies.  It’s the San Francisco 49ers new fangled Pistol read-option offense, which is taking the NFL by storm, versus the Baltimore Ravens conventional drop-back passer style of offense.

The 49ers Colin Kaepernick may be fast, but he's smart enough to have a firm grasp of the 49ers Piston Read-option offense.

The 49ers Colin Kaepernick may be fast, but he’s smart enough to have a firm grasp of the 49ers Piston Read-option offense.

If the 49ers win this game, there will be a radical rethinking of how teams run their offense in the NFL run their offenses in the way Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense did back in the 1980s.

There are already teams around the league-the Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers- that use a version of this read-option offense. New Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is looking to install his version of that offense as well.

In the Pistol read option formation, the quarterback is lined up about four yards behind the center while the running back lines up directly behind the quarterback so that the defense doesn’t see the running back while the quarterback can either run, handoff to the running back or even throw a play-action pass.

The 49ers, led by athletic quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have averaged 476 yards in their two playoff games using their Pistol read-option offense. Perhaps the biggest splash that Kaepernick and the read-option have made thus far was the 49ers divisional playoff win over the Green Bay Packers.

In that game, Kaepernick literally ran the Packers out of the playoffs with a record-setting performance. He rushed for NFL- record 181 yards (most ever by a quarterback regular season or playoffs) and scored two touchdowns. He passed for 263 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. The 49ers compiled 579 yards of offense.

Against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship, so much attention was on Kaepernick keeping the ball and running it that the Falcons forgot about Frank Gore, who gained 90 yards rushing on 21 carries, and tight end Vernon Davis caught five passes for 106 yards. Kaepernick was an efficient 16-of-21 passing for 233 yards and one touchdown pass.

So what is it about the read-option that keeps defensive coordinators and the players the coach up late at night?

“They can do so much and do so many things,” said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. “They can pass out of it. They hand the ball off. There are so many things they can do with it. They can even bring in the trick plays. You have to stay fundamentally sound to defend so many things and play.”

That’s because the read option makes teams have to defend the entire field. In effect, it’s 11-on-11 football where the quarterback serves as an extra blocker by reading where the defender is going to go. In the 49ers read option, Kaepernick can read the ends and linebackers. If those ends and line backers converge on him, the ball is going to the running back or it might go downfield on a pass play.

“It can force a defense to play certain ways that they might not play,” said 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. “It is another way to put pressure on the defense. That is what we want to do. We want to try to put pressure on 11 people on the field. Make it a bad day for them.”

Added Kaepernick: “You’re actually blocking the defender by reading him.”

Even worse for the defense if the offense doesn’t the run ball, the other option for the quarterback is to pass the ball.

“It freezes them a little bit. It gives you a little bit more time,” Kaepernick said of his running ability. “If it’s just a split second, that’s an advantage for the offense.”

In a Dec. 4, the Ravens had trouble stopping the Washington Redskins and Robert Griffith III and their version of the read option. The Redskins rolled up 469 yards of total offense. RGIII passed for 242 yards and one touchdown and also ran for 34 yards.

Meanwhile, rookie running back Alfred Morris gained 129 yards rushing and the Redskins came from behind to beat Baltimore in overtime. There was something the Ravens learned from that experience that could serve them well against the 49ers on Sunday.

“It’s really hard to play that type of package as individuals,” Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said.  “You have to play it as a group. I said that if you were to try to slow it down, that is the only way to slow it down, is to play it as a group. Make sure before the ball is snapped, everybody is on the same page.”