The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

‘Big Truss’ is the story of the Baltimore Ravens’ season

The Ravens' Mark Andrews and Lamar Jackson in just one instance of how the team has come together this season. (Nick Wass/AP)
Placeholder while article actions load

What is “big truss,” the Baltimore Ravens’ slogan of the season?

Perhaps a better question is, when the Ravens take the field, what is not “big truss?”

Lamar Jackson executing a run-pass-option for a first down? Big truss.

Baltimore putting Jackson, running back Mark Ingram and backup QB Robert Griffin III in the backfield together in something called the “Heisman package?” Big truss.

The Ravens’ secondary — second in the NFL in opponent passer rating — blanketing receivers in coverage? Big truss.

Justin Tucker hitting field goals from practically anywhere inside the 50-yard line? Big truss.

The simple answer is that “truss,” is simply slang for “trust” in South Florida, from where Jackson and wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown both hail. There, they told the Baltimore Sun, you don’t “truss” someone. It’s something you say to tell people, Believe me or I’m with you.

The Ravens’ nasty defense is blitzing its way through the NFL. Good luck, quarterbacks.

“When I got here, I was saying it,” Brown, a 2019 draft pick, said. “I was like, ‘Oh, yeah. He [Jackson] says it, too.’”

So “big truss?” That’s just a point of emphasis: You better believe me or I’m with you all the way.

“Truss that if I say it, I mean it,” Tucker told The Sun. “It’s that simple.”

“Depending on who you’re talking to, it may mean different things,” added defensive tackle Michael Pierce. “For me, it just means you trust your brother, you trust your family, and we all got each other’s backs.”

That fits into the larger theme of how Baltimore emerged this season. The Ravens were a playoff team in 2018, but not very dynamic. They were 13th in the league in points, and ninth in yards.

An aging Joe Flacco battled late-season injuries and threw for 12 touchdowns and six interceptions in nine games. Jackson went 6-1 as a rookie starter, but only completed 58.2 percent of his passes.

Lamar Jackson has been causing defensive coaches nightmares since high school

But in the offseason, the team traded Flacco, committed to Jackson and brought in offensive coordinator Greg Roman to mold its attack around Jackson’s strengths. The team signed Ingram, a bona fide starting tailback, in free agency and drafted Brown (46 catches, 584 yards, seven touchdowns) in the first round.

Now Jackson is having an MVP-caliber season: 3,127 passing yards, 36 touchdowns to six interceptions with a 66.1 percent completion rate; 1,206 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.

The Ravens averaged 21 fewer yards per game through the air this season, but 53.4 more yards rushing. They’re scoring 33.2 points per game, nine more than in 2018 and the most in franchise history.

“You go to work and you try to build something around the guys you have. I think we have a great system and I think the players play really, really hard and they execute the system and that’s what it’s all about,” Coach John Harbaugh said in an interview with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt after clinching the AFC North in December.

“Truss!” Jackson shouted into the camera as he barged into the interview and threw his arm around the coach.

“Big truss!” grinned Ingram as he joined in.

“‘Big truss’ — like, trust one another, you know what I mean?” defensive tackle Domata Peko Sr. told The Sun. He made a gingerbread house on Christmas Eve with “BIG TRUSS” written on the roof in white frosting and hard candy.

The phrase appeared this week carved into a mound of rock salt off I-95 in Baltimore ahead of the Ravens’ playoff game Saturday night against the Tennessee Titans.

“And that’s what this team’s about, man,” Peko said. “It’s everyone just playing for one another, and when you trust one another, man, it makes you want to go harder for someone, you know what I mean? And that’s what I got out of it, is just really trusting your teammates to do their job and them trusting me to do my job. And when we’re all doing that, man, watch out. It’s hard to mess up.”

Big truss, indeed.

Read more on the NFL:

How NFL overtime rules work in the playoffs

Derrick Henry, NFL’s rushing leader, was maybe the best high school running back ever

Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge already have the Giants on the wrong path

Green Bay might need to shovel out Lambeau Field ahead of NFL playoff game

NFL playoffs schedule, bracket and what you need to know