Cosell Coaching Tape: 2020 Lamar Jackson & JK Dobbins


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Cosell Coaching Tape: 2020 Lamar Jackson & JK Dobbins

NFL Films/ESPN legend — and one of the best talent evaluators in the business — Greg Cosell has gone through a metric ton of 2020 tape to provide insights on some interesting players headed into the 2021 NFL season. Here, he brings you his raw notes and observations from those tape sessions.

It’s a chance to get inside the mind of one of the greats of the industry.

Today’s deep dive is into two Ravens — how did QB Lamar Jackson perform on third-and-long situations that demand strong pocket play? And how did rookie RB JK Dobbins look?


  • Jackson showed a tendency to drift off the midline on his shotgun dropbacks, at times creating his own pressure, with the result that he too often left throws on the field. He must continue to improve in the details of pocket play.

  • Jackson has shown the ability in the red zone to make timing and anticipation throws with precise ball placement from the pocket.

  • There are times on 3rd-and-long when Jackson will turn it loose on tight window throws, against both man and zone coverage.

  • There were snaps in which Jackson made late-in-the-down pocket throws with bodies around him throwing the ball to air with a good sense of timing and precise ball location.

  • Jackson also, at times, showed the awareness in the pocket to read secondary movement and work through progressions.

  • There were snaps on which Jackson did an excellent job reading pressure pre-snap and delivering quick timing throws to beat it.

  • Jackson showed a tendency to throw with all arm, not transferring his weight with core torque. That negatively impacted ball placement.

  • What consistently stood out watching Jackson on 3rd-and-long was he did not show pocket movement skills. He broke down and left the pocket when he perceived or reacted to pressure.

  • There was very much a random feel to Jackson’s game on 3rd-and-long, with a lot of unnecessary movement which at times resulted in outstanding improvisational plays, but more often led to missed opportunities.

  • There were times throughout the season Jackson struggled to locate underneath zone defenders.

  • Overall, there is no consistency to Jackson’s execution in the pocket. At times, he will make good throws within the timing and structure of the play design, and other times he creates his own pressure by drifting or climbing when he does not need to, resulting in throws left on the field. There were too many snaps on which he did not plant his back foot to be in position to deliver the ball.

  • Empty sets are a featured part of Ravens 3rd-down package. What they predominantly do is have man-to-man route concepts to the twins side of the formation and zone route concepts to the trips side, with Jackson reading the coverage and working to the appropriate side.

  • The Ravens at times featured 4x1 sets out of empty, often getting to that with the back shifting or motioning out of the backfield.

  • Dagger was a featured route concept against zone coverage for the Ravens on 3rd-and-long — Jackson often threw to the dig route.

  • The Ravens often work the slot receiver to the boundary against man-to-man coverage in both empty and 2x2 sets.

  • A staple of the Ravens’ 3rd-and-long pass game is TE Mark Andrews on crossers and over routes from the slot in twins and the inside slot to trips (often out of empty sets)

  • What consistently stood out through the first part of the season was how much man coverage defenses played on 3rd-and-long against Jackson.

  • Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo’s game plan against Jackson was pressure, especially on 3rd down, with significant snaps of zero blitz and zero looks pre-snap. It was highly effective.

  • The Bengals also went snaps of zero blitz on 3rd-and-long against Jackson – defenses were not afraid to bring pressure against the Ravens.

  • It was evident throughout the season that defenses were aggressive with multiple front looks and pressure schemes against the Ravens’ 3rd-and-long offense.


  • Pistol runs on which Dobbins was featured: power, outside zone, delay lead draw, inside zone, speed option; Shotgun runs: misdirection opposite gap scheme, power; I-formation runs: iso lead

  • Dobbins is a rocked up straight-line runner with some core stiffness, but with outstanding short-area burst, acceleration, natural power, and strong finishing traits.

  • There was a physicality and power to Dobbins, with a relentless, determined, competitive feel to his running.

  • What consistently stood out watching Dobbins was how often the point of attack and first level of the defense was clean for Dobbins to get through. He did not have to navigate through confined space much at all.

  • My sense watching Dobbins was that he got better as the season progressed with his patience, vision, defensive gap fluidity, and efficient cuts.

  • What stood out watching Dobbins’ runs is that the Ravens are so good with formations and motions in creating advantageous blocking angles in their multiple run game concepts — motion is a foundational part of Ravens run game.

  • The Ravens are outstanding with easy releases and arc releases by TEs, removing first and second level defenders from primary run support. The Ravens gain a numbers advantage at the point of attack.

  • Misdirection sweep opposite gap-scheme pulling OL produced some big runs for Dobbins out of the shotgun. The Ravens predominantly ran it out of twins to the play side with WRs the lead blockers against off coverage zone corners, and they ran off the corners against man coverage. The Ravens also ran it against the Giants in Week 16 out of a different formation.

  • The Ravens featured multiple ways to get to base run game concepts with different personnel, formations, and motions. The TEs and fullback Patrick Ricard were critical players in the Ravens’ run game with their multiple alignments.

  • Dobbins had big runs in which he got to the perimeter clean based on run game concept (personnel, formation, motion) and/or effectiveness of blocking.

One of the preeminent NFL analysts in the country, Cosell has worked for NFL Films for over 40 years. Due to his vast knowledge of personnel and matchups based on tape study, Cosell regularly supplies us with valuable and actionable insight and intelligence that cannot be found anywhere else.