John Harbaugh defends Baltimore Ravens' run-heavy offense

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh offered a defiant rebuttal Wednesday to the criticism about his offense, saying he is "not apologizing" for Lamar Jackson's style of play or the team's run-oriented game plan.

Harbaugh's forceful support came four days after the Ravens tied a franchise postseason record for fewest points scored in a 17-3 divisional playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills. Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman received heavy flak for what many saw as a simplistic passing attack.

"The reason why I'm strong on this is because it goes back to the same criticism we've heard the last three years about not being the type of an offense or the type of a quarterback that some people want to see," Harbaugh said during his 45-minute, end-of-season news conference. "They're just going to have to live with it because Lamar Jackson has won a lot of football games here and our offense has won us a lot of football games here and we're not apologizing for that for one second."

The Ravens finished last in the NFL in passing for the first time since 2003. Harbaugh explained that the lack of passing yards is the result of building "the best run offense in the history of football the last two years" and the fact that Baltimore has attempted an NFL-low 406 passes.

Baltimore has every route concept in its playbook, but it won't have as complex of a passing game because the Ravens don't throw the ball 40 to 50 times per game like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Harbaugh said.

"We're going to improve it, no question about it," Harbaugh said. "We're going to go to work to be more precise, more efficient and better at what we do. We'll leave the criticism to the critics. When they're ready to coordinate their offense and put their product on the field, I'll be looking forward to competing against it."

Harbaugh pointed out that the Ravens finished No. 7 in scoring this season, averaging 29.3 points per game. "We can talk about the other 25 teams and talk about what they're not doing to fit somebody's eye," he said.

Harbaugh was equally strong in his comments about Jackson's future in Baltimore. The reigning NFL MVP, Jackson finished his third NFL season, which is the time when Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson both received their long-term deals.

Based on market value, Jackson will likely average over $40 million per season on a new deal. With the expectation that Baltimore will exercise his fifth-year option this offseason, Jackson is under contract through the 2022 season, although most agree he has outplayed his rookie deal.

"Of course, absolutely, we want Lamar to sign a long-term deal and be with us," Harbaugh said. "I'm terribly certain that's going to happen. When it happens, that's the details. That's what we got to figure out."

The Ravens also have to figure out whether they have enough cap space to improve Jackson's targets in the passing game. For the second straight season, Baltimore's wide receivers ranked last in the league in catches and in receiving yards.

Barring the franchise tag, the top wide receivers in free agency this year are: Chicago's Allen Robinson, Detroit's Kenny Golladay and Tampa Bay's Chris Godwin.

"If we could bring in an Anquan Boldin in here, let's do it," Harbaugh said. "Can we afford it? That's the details we have to figure out. I think a big, physical receiver would be awesome for us."