“Big Truss” is the newest popular phrase in Baltimore with the Ravens getting off to a 10-2 start, which was punctuated by a thrilling 20-17 win against the NFC-leading San Francisco 49ers Dec. 1.
Kicker Justin Tucker was the hero in the cold and rain at M&T Bank Stadium, nailing a 49-yard field goal as time expired. As his postgame news conference began, Tucker dropped the phrase as an ode to his teammates who have popularized its usage this year.
However, there was more to the game than a saying, as the Ravens’ defense kept them in the game. The 49ers were just 4-for-12 on third down and managed 15 first downs the entire game.
Along with an explosive offense, Baltimore’s defense is starting to come into its own and that’s impressed many, including Hall of Fame head coach Dick Vermeil.
“They play great defense,” Vermeil said on Glenn Clark Radio Oct. 27. “They’re a great defensive football team, too.”
The Ravens have been known for having a hard-nosed defense, but this season, it’s been all about the offense, starting with quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson threw for just 105 yards Dec. 1, but made up for it on the ground, rushing for 101 yards and one touchdown.
He’s emerged as a surefire NFL MVP candidate and has taken the league by storm. One of his biggest admirers was Vermeil’s starting quarterback for the St. Louis Rams and “The Greatest Show on Turf,” Hall of Famer Kurt Warner.
“He is different than a Michael Vick,” Warner said on Glenn Clark Radio Oct. 25. “Yeah, when they get out in space, they’re both fast. His ability to run in tight spaces and avoid hits and make moves is just unique. I don’t know if we’ve ever seen anything like it at this level from a quarterback.”
The two share a unique bond, as Jackson grips a football similar to how Warner did when he played. Jackson had been criticized for his grip in the past, but Warner didn’t buy it.
“I work with a lot of different quarterbacks and I believe that grip is something we all get a feel for,” Warner said. “I never really try to change anybody’s grip because we’ve all been throwing the football for a long time and we all have a comfort zone. As long as you can throw it, I don’t care how you grab it. … To me, it’s more about base, balance, shoulder position and those types of things is how you increase accuracy and improve the way that you throw a football.”
His success has powered the entire Ravens offense. Baltimore has used college-style concepts in the running game such as the zone read, which takes advantage of Jackson’s unique skill set.
The Ravens have reaped the rewards thus far, with a league-leading 207.8 rushing yards per game, 5.6 yards per carry and 18 rushing touchdowns.
“I think it was a real bold and brave thing to do. It’s so normal stay with what the trends have been in the NFL. I remember being a coach coming out of beating Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, having beaten them running a veer combined with a good passing game,” Vermeil said. “I came into the NFL and I was afraid to incorporate some of my veer option football. I always respect somebody that had more courage than I had to go ahead and do that.”
With everything seemingly coming together at the right time and the Ravens currently holding onto the No. 1 seed in the AFC, life is good as a football fan in Baltimore. There still are four games left in the regular season before the playoffs start, but many are already considering the Ravens as a Super Bowl contender.
The newest Super Bowl odds have Baltimore as the favorites at 5-2. It’s a lot of new added pressure, but nothing the team hasn’t seen before. From what’s already happened, there’s reason to believe in the Charm City.
“They’re a year ahead of everybody else. You can bet next year, it’ll be a lot tougher. They pay defensive coordinators about $1.5 million a year to figure things out, and they normally do,” Vermeil said. “Next year, it will be a lot tougher, but I think they’re gonna ride the wave all the way to the world championship.”
For more from Warner, listen to the full interview here:
For more from Vermeil, listen to the full interview here:
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