The Baltimore Ravens squeaked to a 23-20 victory against the Cleveland Browns in Week 7 of the NFL season. It was another second-half collapse for the team, which is proving to be a concerning habit for Baltimore. However, one bright spot has been Gus Edwards. The power back was elevated from the PUP list prior to the game and played a vital role in the Ravens victory.
Against Cleveland, the 27-year-old back rushed for 66 yards and two crucial touchdowns on 16 carries. Still searching for consistency in their backfield in 2022, could Gus Edwards be the Ravens answer in the run game?
Gus Edwards making that waiver wire pickup worthwhile 🚌pic.twitter.com/GNKOl2tUZj
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) October 23, 2022
Gus Edwards Can Save Baltimore Ravens Run Game
Gus Edwards an Underrated Lead Back
Edwards missed the entire 2021 NFL season with a torn ACL. He was projected to be the short-yardage back complementing J.K. Dobbins. However, both players ended up missing the whole season, with Dobbins returning to action late during the 2022 off-season. Edwards was added to Baltimore’s active roster only a day before the Browns game. As a seasoned player in Greg Roman’s system, however, he showed no signs of rust. The staff’s trust in him was palpable, and he ended up being the team’s primary running back.
Take this for what it's worth … Gus Edwards lined up with the Ravens first-team offense in pre-game warmups
— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) October 23, 2022
However, Edwards only played 36% of the team’s offensive snaps, suggesting that Baltimore was wary of aggravating any lingering injury. He was effective when called upon though, punching in two touchdowns that were crucial to winning the game. Edwards’ 16 carries were more than Dobbins has ever managed in a game. This is a testament to John Harbaugh’s faith in ‘Gus the Bus’.
Edwards is the team’s most experienced running back in the Greg Roman system. The team had struggled to get a consistently strong run game going in the early weeks of the season but should look to Edwards to provide some stability.
Over his career with the Ravens, Edwards has consistently been lauded as an underrated star. Previously, he played a crucial situational role for the team as a power back but, against the Browns, once again demonstrated that he is not a one-dimensional player.
With a strong performance in Week 7, Edwards is the answer to the Ravens run game and their lack of consistency in running the ball.
Assessing Ravens Running Back Depth
J.K. Dobbins was moved to the injured reserve earlier in the week. His surgery rules him out for another five weeks or so.
In Week 7, the Ravens named their backfield as Gus Edwards, Kenyan Drake, and Justice Hill. Mike Davis was placed on the inactive list on game day.
Between Edwards, Drake, and Hill, Baltimore utilized a timeshare. Edwards saw 23 offensive snaps while Drake and Hill received 17 and 20 respectively.
Kenyan Drake had a very good game against the New York Giants in Week 6 but failed to build on that performance. Versus the Browns, Drake managed a measly five yards on 11 carries (less than half a yard per carry).
Justice Hill, meanwhile, saw 26 yards from five carries. His five yards per attempt showed good efficiency with limited touches. He did lose a fumble, however.
Neither Drake nor Hill provided convincing performances against the Browns. For now, it seems Edwards is the answer to the Ravens run game while Drake and Hill as change-of-pace backs.
When Dobbins returns, Drake may be dropped. The former Las Vegas Raider has been hard to trust this season, and his yards per carry when relied upon have been concerning. While Hill is not a better running back than Drake, it seems that Hill provides more utility on special teams (56% of special teams snaps against Browns) and this could prove to be the difference.
Potential Trade at Running Back
Of course, the Ravens could trade for a running back. Dobbins has been solid when called upon but is clearly still feeling the effects of his season-ending injury in 2021. A trade for a back would lighten the load on Edwards over the next few weeks. It would also put less pressure on Dobbins when he returns.
James Robinson of the Jacksonville Jaguars would have been a strong candidate, but he was recently dealt to the New York Jets. Cam Akers would bring about a huge upgrade in the running back room, but the Los Angeles Rams’ asking price may be too high for the Ravens.
An intriguing name could be Antonio Gibson of the Washington Commanders. He would struggle as a workhorse back for the Ravens but his utility as a wide receiver and running back would offer the Ravens a versatile weapon that the team lacks.
A trade seems for a running back seems unlikely though. The team has a relatively deep group of running backs and has needs elsewhere. The lack of cap space would also be an issue, meaning the team should prioritize other positions (such as wide receiver and defensive back) first. Edwards is the answer to the Ravens run game for now, and he should be enough for Baltimore until Dobbins returns.
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