They took a chance and it paid off in spades, resulting in the acquisition of the Lombardi Trophy and recognition of being unequivocally the best football team in the NFL at that point in football history.
Things were looking bright in the future of this young and bruising tailback, with the Ravens building their offensive attack around his power-running style of play. That is until the injury bug reared its ugly head and Jamal suffered an injury to his knee that would cancel out his entire sophomore season. Ultimately this unfortunate injury played a huge part in the Ravens not being able to repeat their ‘super’ performance from the previous year.
Of course he rebounded the next season and while he was not exactly 100% his toughness shined through while registering a terrific season of 1,327 yards and 6 touchdowns. This is almost unheard of from a player recuperating from such a severe injury, a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
Jamal Lewis clearly is ranked among the top ten running backs in the league, but he’s gotten little recognition since his indoctrination into the league. Why? Myriads of different possibilities come to mind. While Jamal Lewis is the engine that makes the Ravens offense run, the other ‘gears’ if you will haven’t seemed to be as well put together.
The Ravens struck gold with franchise TE Todd Heap, but unfortunately their other offensive weapons have sometimes lacked the same consistency that this special player has displayed. In a nutshell their passing attack ranked 27th out of 32 teams in the entire NFL, something that definitely points to there being addressable issues regarding the Ravens passing/receiving portion of their offensive attack.
This inability to move the ball through the air also has partially resulted in the Ravens being ranked 16th in the NFL in rushing, and Jamal seeing plenty of hefty 8-man fronts throughout the 2002 season. So long as the Ravens opponents knew of their struggles passing the ball, Jamal would consistently face 8-man fronts leading to nowhere.
Fast-forward to the here and now. Jamal, a year removed from his unfortunate injury should be raring to go and 110% healthy to ready himself for the upcoming season. And the Ravens have also done a lot of things to position Jamal into having a phenomenal season compared to what he’s done so far.
For instance they went and got the meanest, mauling, power-driving, most physically dominant RT that you’re gonna find in the open market in OT Orlando ‘Zeus’ Brown. All 6`7, 350 pounds of him, his reputation isn’t just to block the defender, it is to destroy the man. By the fourth quarter, whomever he’s blocking will have had the strength sapped out of him, which should perfectly complement Jamal’s north-south punishing running style.
This addition now allows Jamal to rush to either side of the offensive line with bookend tackles that are atop of every running back’s wish list. Upgrading the run-blocking portion of the line makes the Ravens a legitimate power-running threat, something that has been a major goal for them ever since they first drafted Jamal with the fifth pick overall in the 2000 draft.
Also add to that the potentially improved passing attack with the additions of not one but two tall, fast and sure-handed veteran receivers in Frank Sanders formerly of the Arizona Cardinals and Marcus Robinson formerly of the Chicago Bears and the future definitely looks brighter than ever before. These two off-season acquisitions may be just as important to Jamal’s ability to run the ball as anything else.
As everyone knows, you’ve got to be balanced on offense to truly control the tempo of the game. You’ve got to be able to run the ball to throw and you’ve definitely got to be able to throw the ball in order to run it; of course they go hand in hand.
This year should be the year that they’ll finally be able to achieve that kind of balance. With a good mixture of offensive talent starting for the Ravens this year, the main benefactor from the upgrade will be Jamal Lewis.
Jamal has been able to consistently gain on average 1,300+ yards and 6 touchdowns in each of the two seasons that he’s started for the Ravens with only a marginal aerial attack and an unbalanced offensive line to lean upon during the season.
If the Ravens have hit upon enough playmakers and their current roster is as explosive as it appears to be on paper, they will finally be able to put up a large amount of points on the board and follow their ideal offensive script.
Originally they wanted to field a high-powered but balanced offense that would allow them to put points up on the board in the first half of games, then utilize a power-running profile in the second half to control the clock and limit opportunities for opposing teams to retaliate in kind.
Jamal is key to that effort, but so is building around him and that’s what the Ravens seem to have done this off-season. If their starters can remain healthy, this offensive structure can potentially be one to be dealt with, and the Ravens opponents would have more than they can handle with the combination of a potent offense and an intimidating defense.
If things go the way they’d like, it’s possible that Jamal can eclipse his former numbers and register a season well over 1,500 yards and 10+ touchdowns, something that almost guarantees a long overdue Pro-Bowl invite. Jamal’s got the potential, lets make it happen.-Pro-