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Bills vs. Ravens preview: Baltimore’s option offense

The Bills face a unique challenge 

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills are going to see plenty of runs when they play the Baltimore Ravens Sunday afternoon. The Ravens are a great running team. They go about it many different ways, and former league MVP Lamar Jackson is what stirs that drink in their option offense.

Play 1

The Ravens designed a pitch for the tight end on this play. Pre-snap, Jackson is in shotgun; there is a running back behind him and a tight end on the left side of the line in a three-point stance. At the snap, Jackson does a read-option with the running back as the EDGE comes across the line. This forces that EDGE to play the option, which stops his movement. Then Jackson pitches the football to the tight end, who is running behind the EDGE (the tight end is completely unaccounted for due to the focus on Jackson). Defensive end Greg Rousseau is going to be in this position a lot, given he gets a decent amount of time at the left EDGE spot on the Bills’ defense.

Play 2

On this play, we have Jackson in the shotgun with a running back to his right and a receiver in motion going right. Jackson does an option with the receiver going right to slow down the left EDGE. At the same time, the left guard pulls right to open up a hole. Jackson then pulls the ball from the receiver and runs through a wide-open hole on the right side of the line. You’re going to see a lot of linebacker Tremaine Edmunds filling in the hole on these run plays.

Play 3

Here we have Jackson in the shotgun with a running back to his left. At the snap, Jackson does an option with the running back, while the Ravens pull both their right guard and tackle. The Jackson option completely slows down the EDGE on the left. The guard blocks the right EDGE and the tackle pulls through the hole, and Jackson is running behind him with a full head of steam. On Sunday, Bills fans are going to see a lot of Von Miller taking on pulling guards as he primarily plays right EDGE.

Play 4

We have another pitch on this play. Pre-snap, Jackson is in shotgun and the tight end is on the right side of the line. At the snap, we have the right guard pull with the tight end behind him. There are two Patriots defenders in the backfield going after Jackson, then he pitches the football to the tight end (who’s behind both defenders) and he runs in for the touchdown. No matter who’s in at EDGE throughout the game—Miller, Rousseau or A.J Epenesa—they’re going to have to be disciplined with what Jackson is doing in the backfield. This sentiment is the same for when guys like linebacker Matt Milano and Edmunds are in the backfield, too.


The Bills will have their hands full against the Ravens’ offense. This game very well could turn into a duel between Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen to see which is the MVP front-runner in the very early NFL season. For Buffalo to slow down Jackson, they’re going to have to figure out a way to limit Lamar’s impact in the option game.