Seriously, how do you stop Lamar Jackson?
That’s the question defensive coordinator Joe Woods has been asking himself for weeks.
The Baltimore Ravens quarterback was named the MVP last season after throwing for 3,127 passing yards, 32 passing touchdowns, 1,206 rushing yards, and seven rushing touchdowns.
If the Cleveland Browns want to stay in the game, slowing down Jackson will be one of the keys.
No. 1: Use More Defensive Backs
Jackson’s first taste of the playoffs came in 2019 but the team lost to the Chargers in the Wild Card Round.
The Chargers had a masterful game plan at the time.
After the loss, NFL.com’s Kevin Patra reported this key tidbit of information:
“According to Next Gen Stats, the Chargers used seven defensive backs on 58 of 59 D snaps (98.3 percent) versus the Ravens in the Wild Card round. Across the NFL that season, there were only 353 total defensive plays with seven DBs on the field (50 by the Chargers) — L.A. allowed 3.9 yards per play with seven DBs versus the Ravens.”
This is a perfect scenario as the Browns are thin at the linebacker position anyways.
The team can use more Ronnie Harrison, Sheldrick Redwine, and Kevin Johnson in this game.
No. 2: “Mush Rush”
Bleacher Report covered last year’s eventual matchup between the Ravens and Patriots in the season.
The defensive lineman rushes Jackson but not as aggressively as they would a non-scrambling quarterback.
In theory, this shuts Jackson’s running lanes down.
LAMAR. JACKSON. @Lj_Era8 TO THE HOUSE ‼️‼️
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 10, 2019
By doing this, it allows Jackson more time to throw the ball.
Last year, Jackson threw 36 touchdown passes to just five interceptions.
However, there’s a time where you just have to pick your poison.
The Browns had one of the worst run-stopping defenses in the league last year (30th overall), so forcing Jackson to beat you by throwing the ball would not be a bad game plan.
No. 3: Control Time Of Possession
Think about it, Jackson can burn you if he is not on the field.
The Browns are going to need to milk their offensive drives and effectively run the ball.
If Nick Chubb and/or Kareem Hunt can effectively net the Browns three to four yards per rush, that will allow the play clock to keep running.
Leading up to the game, the Ravens will be aware of both backs on the team.
— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) September 9, 2020
If Mayfield can convert on short passes and receivers can stay in bounds, that will be an added bonus.
In reality, Jackson won’t hurt the Browns if you give him the fewest opportunities possible.
That seems simple to me.