OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Lamar Jackson‘s first impression of the Baltimore Ravens‘ new offense: more freedom and less reliance on his legs.
After his first practice with new Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken, Jackson said he was extremely pleased with the direction of the new scheme and believes a philosophy change was needed to be successful going forward.
“Less running and more throwing,” Jackson said when asked what this offense will allow him to showcase.
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 taken an NFL-high 877 hits over the past five seasons.
Jackson flashed a big smile when asked if his rushing attempts will be scaled back this year.
“Absolutely, absolutely,” Jackson said. “Especially with the receivers we have.”
The Ravens revamped 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 drafted Zay Flowers in the first round.
Jackson indicated 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 to last in passing attempts (1,945).
“Running can only take you so far,” Jackson said. “And I feel like with this new era of teams and offenses in the league, I feel like we need that. Coach Todd Monken, what I’m seeing in his offense so far, is looking tremendous.”
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 workouts and skipped the first organized team activity on Monday before reporting Tuesday.
The Ravens held out Jackson from team drills, but coach John Harbaugh said the team will “ramp him up” moving forward.
“I’m excited that he’s here, of course,” Harbaugh said. “He was into the meetings. He was locked in the last two days, been completely locked in. So it’s a good thing.”
In addition to a five-year, $260 million contract, the Ravens are giving Jackson more leeway at the line of scrimmage. He pointed out that Monken is “basically just giving us the keys to the offense, really.”
“You can change things when you want to,” Jackson said. “You see the defense, and it’s not looking right to you. You see some guy blitzing, you might want your receiver to do something different. Coach is giving you the free will to do whatever you want to.”