How Marty Mornhinweg Can Create a Seamless Transition for Lamar Jackson
The Baltimore Ravens have an exciting situation on the offensive side of the ball. With the 32nd pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, Baltimore selected Lamar Jackson in what seemed like a perfect fit from day one. The reason behind this perfect fit is because of the current offensive coordinator who has worked with and succeeded with a quarterback of Jackson’s skill set.
Marty Mornhinweg, who is the current offensive coordinator for the Ravens, has been coaching his west coast offense in the NFL since 1997 and has produced high powered offenses in the process. One of his finer coaching accomplishments in the NFL was his 2010 season with the Philadelphia Eagles and quarterback Michael Vick. Vick, a quarterback like Lamar Jackson who needed more development throwing the football, saw his best passing season under Mornhinweg. Through four preseason games, we are starting to see the similarities between how Mornhinweg used Vick and how he is currently using Lamar Jackson.
Just like with Michael Vick in 2010, Mornhinweg is trying to create easy completions for his quarterback by allowing him to get on the move and make a quick completion to get the drive started.
vMorhninweg runs a ton of sprint out passes to start drives for his quarterbacks. Below, Morhninweg paired his sprint out with a flood concept to create an easy throwing window for his quarterback. If none of the reads are open, the quarterback can simply tuck it and run.
Against the Colts, Lamar was asked to run a few sprint-out throws. Here, you can see Mornhinweg decides to pair it with a read option that gives the defense another factor to think about. Jackson, so far, has been running multiple sprint-out throws a game during his four-game preseason stretch.
Mornhinweg also uses these throws on 3rd and short by pairing it with a speed out. The defense sends pressure which creates man-to-man matchups on the outside. Vick (below) senses the defense and dumps it off to Jason Avant who is wide open on the out route.
Already we have seen Lamar Jackson line up in a ton of empty formations during his Ravens tenure. Mornhinweg uses a ton of double-wing empty because it allows those double wings to block to give the quarterback a seven-man protection while also giving the quarterback multiple check downs on release routes.
Jackson has lined up in double wing empty only a few times this preseason but it would be wise to think Mornhinweg does not want to show his whole offense in the preseason. Another young quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, claims that his team is showing less than 20 percent of his playbook this preseason.
Against Chicago, Jackson was able to run for a first down out of this formation. The reason empty formations were so successful for Vick, and will be for Jackson, is because it creates a lot of room to run if nobody is open. It also creates openings in the intermediate-to-deep part of the field for those deep shots he loved to take.
Backed up in their own end zone, the Eagles (below) ran a double wing empty formation. Schmitt and McCoy chipped the defensive end to stop their rush which created more time for the quarterback to make a decision. Vick saw Jackson even with the safety and he threw it up for his receiver to make a play. We will see a lot of this with Lamar Jackson and John Brown come the regular season.
We were able to see a glimpse of Lamar Jackson lining up in split backs, an important formation for Jackson and Mornhinweg like it was for Michael Vick. Just like the double wing empty formation, this allows for max protection for the quarterback to go deep. Against the Colts, Jackson lined up in split backs twice, with both of those snaps resulting in shots towards the end zone.
Below shows both times Jackson lined up in split backs against the Colts. The first play is full max protection: Both running backs block and Jackson lets it fly to the end zone. On the second play, both backs release out into the flat and Jackson once again throws the deep shot, which falls incomplete. This is the formation I expect Jackson to have a ton of success out of. We should see some triple option, shovel pass and screen pass looks out of this formation as the season goes on.
This is one of the many plays that were successful for Michael Vick. Here we have a full max protection, which allows Vick to scan the field and move around in the pocket. Giving quarterbacks like Vick and Jackson max protection is dangerous because of what they can do in the air and with their legs. Watch any Eagles game from 2010 and you will see this formation on nearly every drive.
Lamar Jackson is in good hands, everyone.
Marty Mornhinweg has shown he is able to succeed with a quarterback of Jackson’s skillset. This preseason has shown us a glimpse of how Jackson will be used and, if it is anything like how Vick was used in 2010, we are going to have an exciting quarterback on our hands.