OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The defenses couldn’t be more different, but the goal remains the same for the Baltimore Ravens.
But Baltimore understands the priority hasn’t changed: protect Lamar Jackson. The Ravens are 0-3 this season when Jackson is under duress 14 or more times in a game.
“Week in and week out, that’s our main concern, especially as an offensive line -- keep that guy clean,” Ravens center Bradley Bozeman said. "He’s special back there. Keeping him clean, letting him be able to do the things that he can do, letting him be ‘Lamarvelous.’”
Jackson has been sacked 28 times, the third-most in the NFL. He’s one sack away from tying the most he’s been sacked in a single season.
It’s easy to put all of the blame on an offensive line that lost two Pro Bowl offensive tackles -- Ronnie Stanley (season-ending ankle injury) and Orlando Brown Jr. (traded) -- from a year ago. Except Jackson’s average time in the pocket has been 2.62 seconds, the third-best in the league.
There have been times when the pass protection has allowed too many unblocked rushers to get to Jackson. Likewise, Jackson has to get rid of the ball quicker.
Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman wasn’t overly critical of his team’s pass blocking in the 22-10 loss in Miami.
"I’d say overall, it was pretty good in that game, really,” Roman said. "They had some free runners that we just have to get the ball out.”
Miami’s Cover 0 defense held the Ravens to their fewest points (10) with Jackson as their starter. The Dolphins blitzed one defensive back 24 times (the most any quarterback has faced since 2015) and sent two defensive backs 12 times (the most any quarterback has seen since 2010).
Given how the NFL is a copycat league, Baltimore anticipates seeing future defenses use the same scheme as Miami. And the Ravens vow to be ready for it.
"Oh, for sure, for sure," Jackson said. "Coaches got right, we got right. We all joined in, and we’re going to make something happen. [If] we see Cover 0 again, we’ll have an answer, for sure."
Head coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens will have to make defenses pay if they keep trying Cover 0.
"Schematically, there is nobody who has better ideas against anything than we do,” Harbaugh said. "Certainly, Cover 0, we have some great answers for it that are going to give people a lot of problems. We just have to welcome the next time they run it. So, you have to make them pay with big plays, and that’s what we’re going to work very hard to do.”
The Bears have used Cover 0 only three times this season. Chicago has totaled 25 sacks this season (seventh-best in the league) because of its front seven, especially edge rushers Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack.
“[The Bears’ pressure] starts with those two guys [Quinn and Mack],” Harbaugh said. "That’s how they do it. They’re not a big blitz team.”
The Ravens haven’t been at full strength for most of the week. Jackson (illness) and his No. 1 wide receiver Marquise Brown (thigh) both didn’t practice for two days.
This adds to the challenge of getting this Baltimore offense on track. The Ravens have scored 61 points over the past three games (25th in the NFL), and Roman described the last game as “a straight-to-DVD performance."
"This league is a race to get better, and things are wide open at the midway point,” Roman said. "We’re in a good spot, and it’s what we do from here that matters. So, that’s what we’re focused on.”