As the end of the NFL's regular season draws near, the Baltimore Ravens have achieved the best record in the AFC and have locked up a spot in the playoffs. They have done so while utilizing an entirely different offensive system than the one that head coach John Harbaugh had used to win the Super Bowl in 2012. Achieving this could have been fairly difficult, but former NFL receiver Derrick Mason knows exactly why the Ravens are succeeding in such a manner.
Speaking with PopCulture.com in an exclusive interview, Mason revealed the secret behind the 11-2 record and the playoff berth. He spent six seasons in Baltimore, three of which were with head coach John Harbaugh, so the 15-year veteran has a unique perspective on the entire situation. In Mason's opinion, a big factor in this success is that Harbaugh does not have an ego.
"So, you know, I love John, but what he's doing is, is remarkable from the standpoint is because John won a Super Bowl doing it one way with defense and Joe Flacco when throwing the ball down the field,” Mason told PopCulture.com. “And you know, some coaches have an ego to say, ‘okay, I won it before this way. I'm gonna win again doing it this way.’ With John, he's not that way. He said, ‘you know what, we drafted this guy.’”
As the former Ravens receiver explained, everyone was chasing the future Tom Brady and the future Peyton Manning during the 2018 NFL Draft. Harbaugh, on the other hand, was looking for a way to mix it up and put the NFL on notice. He and the Ravens selected Jackson out of Louisville and set about creating an offense that would take advantage of his strengths.
As a team that had previously relied on the prototypical dropback quarterback in Flacco, completely altering the offense could have been fairly difficult. However, Harbaugh had someone on his staff in Greg Roman that had previously found success while pairing with Colin Kaepernick on the San Francisco 49ers. The Ravens just needed to build upon this foundation to create something completely new.
“I think the smartest thing he did was hire Greg Roman, who was already on the staff," Mason said. "Greg Roman did something that probably not many offensive coordinators would wanna do. He traveled around the US going to different colleges trying to figure out an offense for Lamar Jackson, and the offense he came up with is the offense you see now and you haven't seen this type of offense in NFL ever. They have reinvented what an offense looks like because they're doing it."
With nearly two full seasons of tape on Jackson and the Ravens, there is a possibility that the defensive coordinators around the league could ultimately figure out what makes this group so lethal and find a way to shut it down. This is what happened with other offensive schemes, such as the Wildcat formation that the Miami Dolphins relied on during the 2008 season.
There is a belief in the NFL that every system will eventually be solved by opposing coaching staffs, provided they have enough time. Wouldn't this hold true for the Baltimore Ravens? Mason doesn't believe this is the case. As the playoffs draw near, he believes that Jackson is only improving on a weekly basis, which will make this offensive system even more effective in the future. In his opinion, there is only one thing that can slow down this powerhouse team.0comments
"Lamar Jackson is getting better. He's getting better as a passer," Mason said. "And I said this on our show, I said, 'listen, once he becomes a consistent 65, 70-percent passer, the league is done, 'cause there's nothing you can do to stop this guy. The only thing that's going to stop him is injury.'”
(Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty)