Well, Coach Harbaugh, I think you should look no further than a guy already on the roster in Buck Allen. Allen came to the Ravens in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. In 2 of the 3 seasons at USC, Allen got a majority of the workload. He totaled 2,306 yards, 27 total touchdowns, and was the only player in NCAA to record 13 games with 100 yards from scrimmage during the 2014 year. Unfortunately, it seems like Harbaugh and myself might not be on the same page:
Buck Allen is a shifty type of runner. Unlike the other 2 backs on the roster, Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon, Allen is a one-cut back, with the agility and the quickness to make defenders miss instead of running through them. Another good quality of Allen’s game is his ability to catch out of the backfield. West and Dixon also have good hands, but you can never have enough running backs that can catch and make plays on the receiving end. Allen has had a few chances to showcase what he can do and most of the time, he hasn’t disappointed.
In an injury-riddled 2015 campaign, Buck Allen was the only running back to stay consistently healthy. After 10 games, he was forced into the starting role and he produced surprisingly well. Starting in 6 games, he carried the ball for 514 yards, but was an even bigger asset as a receiver. He had 45 catches for 353 yards and 2 touchdowns. After a strong rookie season, Allen looked like he was ready to take the next step in his career and become a valuable player for the Ravens.
Unfortunately, Allen took a major step back this past season. Some of Allen’s questions coming out of college started to show again. He failed to read zone blocking schemes and hesitated to hit holes. At times he shied away from contact and did not show the instincts we saw as a rookie. These flaws caused the coaching staff to lose faith in Allen, making him a healthy scratch for much of the season. Instead, the team turned to West and Dixon as the feature backs.
But did he really even get a chance to show what he could do? The preseason was ugly, I’m sure he would admit that, but it is the preseason. Younger offensive lineman and tight ends are getting on the field that sometimes aren’t up to par. In his first two games seeing action, he carried the ball 7 times for an average of 4.4 yards per carry. Even though it is just a small sample size, it is a good enough average to wonder why the Ravens only gave him 2 carries for the rest of the year.
What Is Next?
I expect Allen to have an increased role in the upcoming season. I hear a lot of chatter about Dalvin Cook, but I would spend my resources on fixing other positions rather than those that just need patching up. All Javorius needs is a chance to showcase his ability and the addition of Greg Roman will help with that. With Marty Mornhinweg’s pass-happy scheme mixed in with Roman’s run schemes, Allen should get the chance to show he can run the ball and have plenty of opportunities to catch it too.
This system could fit Buck Allen perfectly. It will have simpler blocking schemes, making it easier for Buck to make his cut and hit the hole. It will also give Allen plenty of chances to catch the ball, as the Ravens running backs finished in the top of the league with receptions. The new system plays to Allen’s strengths; however, he must first be given the chance to show what he can. If things work out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Javorius Allen as the No. 1 running back on next year’s depth chart.