The Baltimore Ravens lost top running back Justin Forsett and quarterback Joe Flacco last week, add this to the loss of Steve Smith Sr. and Lorenzo Taliaferro and you see an incredibly depleted Ravens offence.
This does, however, open the door to Baltimore’s fourth-round draft pick Javorius Allen. The running back has had a minor role in each match-up this season, playing behind Justin Forsett, but now he will lead the offence.
Javorius, or “Buck” as he’s known, took over from Forsett when he broke his arm against the St. Louis Rams last week and managed to post over 100 yards from scrimmage.
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Will the Offensive Line Help or Hinder Allen’s Production?
Ravens boast one of the league’s top O-Lines. It was ranked second overall by Sports Illustrated prior to the start of the season, and it’s the second most experienced line with a combined 378 starts between their most used personnel.
Speaking to Sports Illustrated, Justin Forsett says that their mentality is what makes them strong:
"What I love is that we have some nasty guys who are willing to get dirty and physical on every play. Anytime you have that mentality, you know you're going to have a good offensive line."
Although it has only paved the way for seven rushing touchdowns with an average of 3.9 per rush attempted, Baltimore have only attempted 248 runs which is the 10th least in the NFL.
Now that they’re without their star quarterback, it’s only logical that the running game will get more of a look in and, as the offensive line is so solid, more rushing attempts would yield greater production than the stats to date would suggest.
However, this may also hinder the potential of Allen. The O-Line has been so good at protecting the quarterback that they are in the top five for both fewest QB hits allowed and fewest sacks allowed. This could result in Flacco’s veteran stand-in Matt Schaub to test his arm more.
The 34-year-old hasn’t started since the 2013 season, when he was with the Houston Texans. In that season both of his wins came in the first two games.
In his last win as a starter, which was a 24-30 win at home to the Tennessee Titans on September 15 2013, Schaub attempted 48 passes and allowed his runners to take the ball 28 times. If his play style remains similar to that of two years ago, there’s a good chance that Allen will get a fair share of the plays come his way.
Buck Allen may actually see a higher amount of touches than expected, given that the new QB is 34-years-old however, Schaub is only 689 yards from reaching the 25,000 career passing yards milestone, which he will likely be eyeing up.
Can Buck Handle it?
Baltimore are lucky in that they’ve had Buck involved in their offence all season, and so the transition into starter shouldn’t be too tricky to establish.
Allen can function as a rusher and a receiving back. He averages 3.9 yards on his 64 rushing attempts and 8.2 yards on his 13 receptions. According to his NFL Draft Profile, his main asset is that he can turn on a dime, but it also states that he doesn’t tend to finish runs with much urgency.
Buck will have Terrance West and Raheem Mostert in his reserve. Baltimore’s Official Website reports that West will be Allen’s number 2 against the Browns this week.
As: Schaub will inevitably be a bit rusty; the Ravens are against one of the worst run defences in the league and; the formidable O-Line will create plenty of chances for the running game, Buck Allen should have plenty of chances to go big against Cleveland.