In A Copycat League, Can Teams Replicate Baltimore Ravens’ Success?

San Francisco 49ers v Baltimore Ravens
Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens promised they were going to shake up the status quo of the National Football League this season.

So far, they have lived up to those words.

Baltimore is riding an NFL-best eight-game winning streak and have beaten some of the league’s toughest teams over that stretch, including the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers. 

Before Week 13, the Ravens had beaten all those opponents by double-digit points. Then, Baltimore showed it could also win a close game by edging the 49ers on a last-second field goal by Justin Tucker as time expired at a rain-swept M&T Bank Stadium.

“This is the NFL, so each and every game, you’re going to go in prepared, ready for a dogfight,” quarterback Lamar Jackson said. “This one here, it was a dogfight that came down to fourth down [and a] field goal. We were ready, but at the same time, you’ve got to get ready each and every game because you don’t know what [will] happen.” 

The Ravens own the NFL’s most explosive offense and are ranked No. 1 with 33.8 points per game.

Much of that success can be attributed to  Jackson, who is a favorite for league MVP.

Jackson has run for 977 yards, which is the second most by a quarterback in a single season. He is just 63 yards shy of setting a new NFL record set by Michael Vick in 2006. 

Jackson is also a capable passer and has thrown for 2,532 yards with 25 touchdowns and five interceptions. He is the sixth quarterback in league history with at least 25 passing touchdowns and seven rushing scores in a single season. Cam Newton was the last player to accomplish that feat in 2015 when he was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

Jackson is also the first player in NFL history with at least 25 passing touchdowns and at least 950 rush yards in a single season, according to NFL Research.

The NFL is often called a copycat league. So, will Jackson’s success as a dual-threat quarterback inspire other teams to find a player similar to Jackson?

That’s a challenge than could be easier said than done.

Jackson is a rare athlete with a unique skill set. He has made highlight reel plays throughout the season by utilizing spin moves and juking defenders. He has been named AFC Offensive Player of the Week four times this season.

So, other teams might try to emulate him, but they might not have the same success because there is only one Lamar Jackson.

“We've been believing in him since he's been here,” right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. said. “He's somebody that comes in every day, works hard at practice, works hard in the film room and goes hard on Sundays. So, to me, his energy is so contagious. It's been one of the reasons we've been able to win.”

Despite his skills, Jackson has impressed his teammates even more with his work effort and will to win. Jackson has dismissed any talk of being named this year’s MVP because his sole focus is on winning a Super Bowl. 

“That’s the vision. He brought that vision about since he got drafted,” receiver Willie Snead said. “When you have a guy at the helm that has that vision. If the guys around him don’t have that vision, we have the wrong guys in the huddle. Everybody in the huddle has that same vision. All 11 guys see the Super Bowl in our near future, and it starts with Lamar [Jackson], like you said. 

“I remember what he said to me after the playoff game last year. ‘I’m going to be a better passer. I’m going to be a better football player. I’m going to be a better teammate.’ Everything he wanted to be better at, that’s what he’s doing right now. So, everybody has his back. Everybody is on his side. It’s all about how far he wants to go and how far we want to take this thing.”

The Ravens are tied with New England for the best record in the conference at 10-2, but they own the tiebreaker by virtue of a 37-20 victory over the Patriots on Nov. 3.

This means, Baltimore holds the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs heading into the final month of the season. 

The rest of the league will be closely watching Jackson the rest of the way, trying to figure out ways to both stop him ... and replicate him. 

">

The Baltimore Ravens promised they were going to shake up the status quo of the National Football League this season.

So far, they have lived up to those words.

Baltimore is riding an NFL-best eight-game winning streak and have beaten some of the league’s toughest teams over that stretch, including the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers. 

Before Week 13, the Ravens had beaten all those opponents by double-digit points. Then, Baltimore showed it could also win a close game by edging the 49ers on a last-second field goal by Justin Tucker as time expired at a rain-swept M&T Bank Stadium.

“This is the NFL, so each and every game, you’re going to go in prepared, ready for a dogfight,” quarterback Lamar Jackson said. “This one here, it was a dogfight that came down to fourth down [and a] field goal. We were ready, but at the same time, you’ve got to get ready each and every game because you don’t know what [will] happen.” 

The Ravens own the NFL’s most explosive offense and are ranked No. 1 with 33.8 points per game.

Much of that success can be attributed to  Jackson, who is a favorite for league MVP.

Jackson has run for 977 yards, which is the second most by a quarterback in a single season. He is just 63 yards shy of setting a new NFL record set by Michael Vick in 2006. 

Jackson is also a capable passer and has thrown for 2,532 yards with 25 touchdowns and five interceptions. He is the sixth quarterback in league history with at least 25 passing touchdowns and seven rushing scores in a single season. Cam Newton was the last player to accomplish that feat in 2015 when he was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

Jackson is also the first player in NFL history with at least 25 passing touchdowns and at least 950 rush yards in a single season, according to NFL Research.

The NFL is often called a copycat league. So, will Jackson’s success as a dual-threat quarterback inspire other teams to find a player similar to Jackson?

That’s a challenge than could be easier said than done.

Jackson is a rare athlete with a unique skill set. He has made highlight reel plays throughout the season by utilizing spin moves and juking defenders. He has been named AFC Offensive Player of the Week four times this season.

So, other teams might try to emulate him, but they might not have the same success because there is only one Lamar Jackson.

“We've been believing in him since he's been here,” right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. said. “He's somebody that comes in every day, works hard at practice, works hard in the film room and goes hard on Sundays. So, to me, his energy is so contagious. It's been one of the reasons we've been able to win.”

Despite his skills, Jackson has impressed his teammates even more with his work effort and will to win. Jackson has dismissed any talk of being named this year’s MVP because his sole focus is on winning a Super Bowl. 

“That’s the vision. He brought that vision about since he got drafted,” receiver Willie Snead said. “When you have a guy at the helm that has that vision. If the guys around him don’t have that vision, we have the wrong guys in the huddle. Everybody in the huddle has that same vision. All 11 guys see the Super Bowl in our near future, and it starts with Lamar [Jackson], like you said. 

“I remember what he said to me after the playoff game last year. ‘I’m going to be a better passer. I’m going to be a better football player. I’m going to be a better teammate.’ Everything he wanted to be better at, that’s what he’s doing right now. So, everybody has his back. Everybody is on his side. It’s all about how far he wants to go and how far we want to take this thing.”

The Ravens are tied with New England for the best record in the conference at 10-2, but they own the tiebreaker by virtue of a 37-20 victory over the Patriots on Nov. 3.

This means, Baltimore holds the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs heading into the final month of the season. 

The rest of the league will be closely watching Jackson the rest of the way, trying to figure out ways to both stop him ... and replicate him. 

Follow me on Twitter.

I have been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, Ravens Maven -- a Sports Illustrated Team Channel, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. I

...