Here is the truth. Neither team wants to play offensive football with their current style and philosophy but both teams realize this is the hand they have been dealt. Criticism of these two teams' offensive coaching staff is without merit in my opinion. They should rather be credited for moving the needle forward in the only way their personnel/roster will let them currently. In both cases their QB’s have failed to deliver progress.
It’s clear to me that Colts QB Phillip Rivers is lacking the arm strength he once had for years while carrying the San Diego, then Los Angeles Chargers. His mind is making appointments his body can no longer keep. Short and medium range throws, when the ball can come out early and with a clean pocket are where the 39-year-old can make his hay but any spread the field or downfield attack is a challenge. I’ve said this before, Phillip was, for years, the best I had ever been around ‘once he decides where the ball must go’ in getting the ball out of his hand. I saw every week for my 10 years with the Chargers. At this stage, he still sees it just as quickly but now struggles physically with that once quick release and the arm strength to get it downfield- especially late in downs. For example, let’s say a play lasts 7 seconds, Phillip used to be downright awesome in seconds 6 and 7 of a play. He had an uncanny ability to deliver the ball at the last second and put it on a receiver in stride so they could do something with it. That skill does not exist anymore. He must throw it early because of his lack of arm strength and when he doesn’t – bad things happen. Therefore, a power running game and short play action passes with multiple screens and option routes by running backs are what the Colts are left with to be successful. Even though they are in first place currently, I’m not sure that is enough fire power at the end of the day, especially if they can’t control the line of scrimmage, for a deep playoff run. The lack of versatility in offensive options gives me pause.
To the same extent, much has been said or written about the Ravens plan of attack in Baltimore. In my opinion, they did not make a conscious effort to install this type of option/RPO attack. This was rather the best method, while league MVP Lamar Jackson developed into a more polished passer. Now, Lamar is barking that the defense knows what they are doing- DUH, no kidding. There are only so many ways and formations you can run these types of plans in a certain game-plan. It’s not a fault of the coaches, once again, it’s the hand they have been dealt by the characteristics and skill sets of their players. It’s what Lamar can do and do it very well. Some analysts have said they need to add more polished and more explosive receivers on the perimeter and I do think this will be the next step to progressing this offense to the next level but here is what I keep coming back to - this is exactly the reason that most teams had Lamar rated as a second-round talent. Most doubted he would have the skill set to consistently beat teams as a passer from the pocket. He is a phenomenal athlete who can throw the ball but he has not shown consistent ability to be an accomplished passer, despite him winning the MVP award last year. It's just my opinion but I still think the deck is stacked against the Ravens being able to use their current path on offense to long term success.
The NFL is about having options and I just don’t see the Ravens or Colts having enough. An average passing game would do the trick. The race to mediocrity sets a new standard for these teams to have a chance vs the league’s elite.