When the Cleveland Browns host the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in Week 4 of the NFL season, the visitors will look significantly different. Injuries have befallen the Ravens, as they seem to every year, but it is the new-look offense that should grab a lot of attention.
Unfortunately for Baltimore, that will not include two of their top three receivers as Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashod Bateman, injury-prone players, will miss the matchup.
So far, with former Browns OC Todd Monken calling plays, QB Lamar Jackson has completed 73% of his passes for 608 yards. Just two touchdowns throwing and just one interception join his passing stat line.
Jackson hasn’t stopped running the football either. With the loss of RB JK Dobbins, Jackson leads the Ravens in rushing attempts (32), rushing yards (193) and tied for the lead in rushing touchdowns (2).
Baltimore’s success has come from the diversity of player groupings and usage:
Personnel diversity is when a player is aligned in a position that is not their rostered position. Where players line up can reveal playcalls & some groupings offer more versatility, enabling creative playcalling. Here are the best/worst offenses in personnel diversity since 2019 pic.twitter.com/wo3jeTxD0Z— MikeyV (@M_G_V22) September 27, 2023
In many ways, the Ravens offense is best described by this clip from the movie “Iron Man 2”
Eight different players have at least one rushing attempt and 10 players have at least one reception, led by rookie WR Zay Flowers with 21.
As a whole, 16 non-linemen have seen snaps on the offensive side of the ball in just three games for the Ravens. With Beckham and Bateman out, all of those numbers could increase and personnel groupings will be used to hide Flowers all over the formation.
Cleveland’s defense must be ready to match what the Ravens bring. While DC Jim Schwartz says they won’t sit back, the Browns can’t lose track of what their opponents are trying to do. Given the dominance of Schwartz’s front seven, you can expect Jackson to line up with a lot of either very spread-out formations to open the box or very tight formations to protect.
Given Monken’s creativity, expecting runs from spread-out and passes from tight formations fits perfectly and goes against the grain.
Are you surprised just how diverse the Ravens are compared to the rest of the league?