The Baltimore Ravens are leading the NFC North with a 7-2 record under sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Louisville graduate has already thrown for 2,036 yards, ran for 702 and accounted for 21 touchdowns scored by the team. What makes this offense tick? It’s one small adjustment from the coaching staff that is slowly revolutionizing the NFL.

Specifically, the Ravens have gone away from the traditional model of teaching a young quarterback the team system and instead developed tactics which play to their QB’s strengths. This is something the college game has done for decades, but it hasn’t caught on in the NFL until recently.

For Lamar Jackson, and other young quarterbacks, this change is very helpful. Jackson said so to teammate Willie Snead, “He told me, 'Bro, I didn't know anything last year.’ He said, 'I just got thrown in there. I didn't have any feelings for you guys. I didn't know how fast you were.' But when he got into this offense, he felt comfortable right away. And you're seeing it start to blossom now.”

Lamar Jackson Baltimore Ravens
Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens is tackled as he carries the ball by cornerback Mike Hilton #28 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

With more and more young NFL quarterbacks entering the league with more weapons, traditional offenses aren’t always the best way to get the most from this position. Many times, allowing more throwing and scrambling benefits not only the player but the team as a whole.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is another great example. Andy Reid changed his West Coast offense to better suit the Texas Tech graduate by introducing more downfield passing plays and allowing more improvisational opportunities. The result was an MVP award in Mahomes’ first year as a starter.

The Dallas Cowboys have done the same with Dak Prescott and the Buffalo Bills did likewise with Josh Allen. The results in both cases have been positive with the emphasis on throwing and running benefitting the young players.

Eric Bieniemy, the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs, says of this new model,

“You have to be flexible. If you're drafting a kid, you want to make sure he can be at his best doing what he does best. Obviously, there are some things that we will want [Mahomes] to do but we don't have to force-feed him everything. You want to make sure guys can excel and do things that they've done for a long time. You want to let them shine.”

Shine is exactly what Jackson has done this season. In week one, he threw for 324 yards and tallied five touchdowns en route to a 59-10 thrashing of the Miami Dolphins. Week two saw 272 yards in the air and a further 120 on the ground as Baltimore bested the Arizona Cardinals 23-17.

Jackson has also impressed in his team’s two most difficult match-ups this season. He got 116 yards via 14 carries against the Seattle Seahawks and 224 total yards plus three touchdowns while facing the New England Patriots.

The change in Baltimore from one year ago is astounding. At that time, the Ravens were just trying to make the playoffs with a rookie QB who had very obvious limitations. Now, thanks to Jackson and their new tactics, they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

The change across the NFL is slow at the moment, but should more young quarterbacks follow in the footsteps of Jackson, this new tactic of QB-centric offenses in the NFL will surely stick around.