Note: Objects at close range are faster than they appear on film.
Chicago Bears defenseman Tashaun Gipson said those are his memories of facing Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson two years ago. Play the wrong angle or get injured and – in no time – a potential ball player will appear in Jackson’s rearview mirror.
The Bears are preparing to face Jackson for the first time on Sunday at Soldier Field, although he skipped training for the second day in a row on Thursday due to reportedly unrelated COVID-19.
“He’ll probably make the first guy miss, you know?” – said Gipson. “There is speed in the movie, but when you see it live, the dude can run. I’ve played with him earlier in his career when his legs were probably more dangerous than his arm, but now it’s even more dangerous because when he climbs, he doesn’t try to take off, he tries to throw the ball down the field. ” …
Gipson’s encounter with Jackson happened to the Houston Texans in 2019, in which the Ravens won 41-7. It was one of 14 wins for the Ravens in the regular season, and Jackson became the youngest MVP in NFL history.
Jackson is once again at the forefront of the MVP debate this season. He ran 3127 yards in 2019 and 4622 yards this year. In 1919, he ran 1,206 yards and goes 1207 yards. Jackson’s threat as a dynamic ball carrier remains unmatched for a quarterback. He has grown exponentially as a passer-by, especially a pocket-passer.
The Bears catch the Ravens and, presumably, Jackson – assuming he’s healthy on time – hitting a clunker against the Miami Dolphins on November 11. The Ravens lost 22-10, their lowest record in 46 regular-season starts as a quarterback.
The Dolphins used a combination of Cover-Zero pressures and then showed Cover-Zero and dived in six, knocking out two defenders. The Ravens have been thrilled with one of the biggest shocks – and there have been several – in the NFL over the past month. What is unknown is whether the game was a deviation from the norm, a well-executed plan by a wrestling team of dolphins in a short week with the Ravens struggling to adjust, or a plan for success against offense, averaging 414 yards per game.
“We’ve seen this (before),” said Crow Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman. “It makes you play fast and efficiently. This is one of those things that, unless you permanently damage it or damage it severely, you will continue to see it. ”
The bears are not going to give advice on strategy. In Shawn Desai’s first year as a coordinator, they relied much more on male high school lighting than before. This can be dangerous because when the defenders have their backs on Jackson, he can expand the play to the edge of the pocket and create explosive kicks.
Of course, the Dolphins did it over and over again in their victory, relying on human cover in the back end, sending the kitchen sink into the Jackson and Raven attack line.
“The dolphins put it on,” said the NFL scout. “Can the Bears copy this? Perhaps. Do they have the staff that Miami has at the secondary level? They don’t. They don’t have Xavien Howard, Byron Jones and personal meetings like in Miami. ”
The Dolphins played almost a quarter of the match and aligned their protective backs with the sticks. Jackson’s process accelerated due to the approaching pressure, making it difficult to find routes at the first-to-fall marker position.
“Many teams against Lamar will be heavier in the zone. But what is the zone? “- said the scout. “You would like to play split-safe against Greg Roman’s passing game because it’s a more vertical base. But do you have remedies that can fill the lanes? Because if you play with split safety and pull your fuses out of the box, now you have to deal with running game, running wrong direction and running game plurality, and Lamar as a constant threat as a runner. That is why it is difficult for them to defend themselves. ”
It remains to be seen how many key players will return to the Bears’ defense. Outside midfielder Khalil Mak, who missed the last two games with a dislocated left leg, was out of practice on Thursday. Eddie Jackson’s free safety was limited after skipping a Steelers game due to a hamstring injury. Defender Akiem Hicks (ankle) and inner midfielder Danny Trevatan (knee) also broke down.
Desai has been aggressive at times this season and he thinks the pressure needs to be relieved a bit to see if the Crows, with extra time after Thursday’s flop in Miami, can fix the leaks. But he must be adaptable and cannot count on a copycat game plan running for weeks on end.
“In this league, I don’t think there is one way to do anything,” Desai said. “Baltimore lost a couple of games this year and they lost in different ways and they came back on a couple of different teams that played them differently. They had three comebacks, of which three teams were leading in the fourth quarter with different plans. Was that so? No. Is this the way? For confidence. Is this one way that worked overnight? Yes.
“You look at the blueprints and you say, ‘Hey, let’s just copy this.’ It might work. It can also explode in your face in the same way. So, you have to make sure to use the strengths of your team. ”
The Bears were much better against the run ahead of their farewell week, doing an excellent job of slowing down Naji Harris and the Pittsburgh Steelers. They didn’t have to worry too much about Ben Roethlisberger shooting them unnecessarily. Jackson will do it when the opportunity presents itself, so folding the Crow’s ground game slow-down box, which ranks first in the NFL at 154.1 yards per game, could create problems in the background.
The bears need to find a way to lock Jackson in their pockets and try to speed up his handling. They must also prove that they can stop the race early in the game. They must be disciplined and able to play in space.
“I think Desai will be safer in obvious overtaking situations,” the scout said. “He has to put the numbers in the box and the numbers on the playing side. Here’s what about Lamar: Even in these plays read, even if he’s wrong and the Bears have Robert Quinn or another defender sitting there waiting for him, Jackson can still beat him and make the game right. ”
And in such a play, Jackson will be even faster than he appears in the film.