To Beat the Ravens, Teams Should Copy Baltimore’s Pre-Snap Tactic

Baltimore has a man in motion on 34 percent of plays, tops in the NFL

Teams Should Copy Baltimore's Pre-Snap Tactic
Matt Skura prepares to snap the ball to Lamar Jackson. (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
By Evan Bleier / November 27, 2019 10:04 am

At 9-2 atop the AFC North, the Baltimore Ravens are having a ton of success and the reason why is no secret.

Second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson, who threw five touchdown passes during a dismantling of the LA Rams on Monday Night Football, has been nothing short of fantastic this season and is the odds-on favorite to win MVP.

But Baltimore has another trick up its sleeve, one that other NFL teams might be wise to see if they can copy.

This season, the Ravens are employing pre-snap motion more than any other team in the league and are using the tactic on 34 percent of their offensive plays this season, according to ESPN.

(Basically, pre-snap motion is having one or more offensive players moving before the snap to try to exploit personnel mismatches. Only one player can be in motion when the ball is actually snapped.)

On Monday night against the Rans, that average shot up to 47 percent and the Ravens rolled to a 45-6 win.

“What a good job they do of creating conflict right before the snap, changing your fits,” Rams coach Sean McVay said after the loss.

While Baltimore is extremely adept at using the tactic, an ESPN statistical analysis found that the majority of teams would benefit from using pre-snap motion, particularly on run plays against a man-to-man defense.

Baltimore plays the San Francisco on Sunday and it will be interesting to see if 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, who used many advanced pre-snap motion concepts while he was coordinating the offense for the Falcons, gives the Ravens a taste of their own medicine.

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