Monday Night Football was an impressive showing for the Baltimore Ravens as they crushed the Rams 45 – 6. The Ravens were dominant on both sides of the ball with Lamar Jackson scoring 5 passing touchdowns, while the defense held the Rams to only 6 points. However, the Ravens also showed some concerning game-time decisions.
One of the most concerning decisions from the Ravens was how long they kept Lamar Jackson in. Despite being up by 29 points with 10 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Lamar Jackson played all the way into the 4th. With a lead like that and complete offensive and defensive dominance, there is no reason Lamar should have been in the game past this point.
While coach John Harbaugh may have wanted to secure the win, he should have not allowed Jackson to run outside of the pocket into the open field. With the Rams desperate and upset with the course of the game, when Jackson ran into the open field, they began tackling at his legs. This is a problem for the Ravens because if he got hit awkwardly, he would’ve gotten a meaningless injury in garbage time.
Another problem with the Raven’s Monday night game-plan was the decision to go for it on 4th and 4 with 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. Despite the team’s ability to convert on plays like this, it was a very poor decision as the Ravens were still up by 29 points… in field goal range… with one of the best kickers in the league.
Also, this decision was disrespectful to the Rams as it seemed as though the Ravens were just trying to run up their numbers. As a coach who wants to contend in playoffs, Harbaugh should have put the field goal unit in and rested his best player.
Although the Ravens have been incredible this season, Harbaugh needs to understand that being overambitious in games will not lead to long term success. A perfect example of this is the Patriots. Despite being one of the most disliked coaches ever, Bill Belichick understands this concept better than anyone.
Every year the Patriots stick to conservative play calls and every year their team is good. The Patriots limit the amount of risk they take by usually never taking deep shots at the end of the half and benching their starters whenever they have a more than comfortable lead. By limiting unnecessary risks, the Ravens would increase their control of games as well as preserve their roster for more significant games.
With poor coaching decisions like these, it would be a shame to see a dynamic athlete like Jackson get injured from overexerting himself in garbage time ― especially because of his play-style. Unfortunately, this situation draws too much of a similarity to Derrick Rose’s first injury in the 2012 NBA Playoffs with less than 2 minutes left and being up by 12 points.
With having athletic players who often put their body on the line, coaches need to know when to rest them to ensure their safety. As the Ravens have shown that they’re able to dominate teams, they must also show that they’re also capable of making cautious and conservative game-decisions in order to protect their players as well as their playoff berth.