Lamar Jackson's MVP campaign broke the record books. Now Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh is looking for the next evolution of his offense.
The coach said Thursday the ensuing focus for the Ravens quarterback in 2020 is generating more deep pass plays when teams focus on stopping their historic run game.
"Those corners are going to be one-on-one and those safeties are going to be one-on-one against receivers, especially on some downfield throws, and we got to make them pay for it. We absolutely have to make them pay," Harbaugh said, via ESPN. "The ability to make them pay for tilting their defense toward stopping our run game with a really, really efficient passing game. I do believe that's the next step of this offense. I really do believe Lamar is going to take the next step."
The Ravens offense should remain a run-based concept with Jackson's explosive ability, coupled with a stacked backfield led by Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill and second-round rookie J.K. Dobbins.
"I wouldn't say we're going to scrap the run game and I wouldn't say we're going to become a more conventional offense -- that's the last thing we want to do," Harbaugh. "We didn't change the offense to scrap the idea that we want to cause people problems. We just want to get better at taking advantage of weaknesses."
Great offense beats good defense every time. What Harbaugh expects from Jackson in 2020 is to take advantage of where the defense is weak. When they step up to stack the box against Jackson and the backs, the quarterback must make them pay deep.
Those deep shots were the worst part of Jackson's electric game last season. The signal-caller ranked 27th in completions of at least 15 air yards with a connection rate of 43.8 percent on such throws (ranked 22nd). In the playoff loss to the Titans, Jackson struggled to connect on deep shots, completing just 35.3 percent as the AFC's top seed last year bowed out of the postseason.
Harbaugh believes as defenses evolve to slow the Ravens' run game, the deep shots should open up with more regularity.
"We should have guys more open and we should have bigger plays and we should create more opportunities in the passing game because of that run game," Harbaugh said.
If Jackson's deep ball evolves like his run game did, an already potent offense in Baltimore will be nearly unstoppable.