No one will ever question how dynamic 2018 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson is. Jackson’s been the most consistent player on a Baltimore Ravens team that is 6-3 despite some glaring issues on both sides of the rock.
Whenever a sliver of doubt creeps into the narrative, Jackson usually responds with an historic performance that has talking heads unable to say anything but “M-V-P.”
His superior athleticism and leadership shine on the gridiron, yet the facets of his game that need improving are just as glaring. Lamar Jackson hasn’t reached a Super Bowl, but he has plenty of time for that.
When that moment comes, then we know he will have added these five components into his arsenal. Once Jackson puts the finishing touches on his overall development as an NFL quarterback and refines his approach just a bit, he will be a Super Bowl champion.
For now, in all of his greatness, he remains a captivating freak show that boosts ratings and feeds social media.
- Jackson’s Too Quick To Come Off His Reads And Run: Needs To Go Through Progressions Longer
There is no QB in the league with better legs than Jackson, and that’s evidenced by his career rush total of 3,545 yards, 21 rushing TDs, 64.0 yards rushing per game and a hefty 6.0 yards per carry. That’s all great and it usually works.
”If he’s throwing like that from the pocket, and he’s that accurate in getting through his progressions, it’s really difficult to defend.”
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 15, 2019
But too often he’s running instead of going through his progressions, refusing to allow his receiver to get open. The big plays he makes with his legs could be even bigger if he was a little more patient and not so quick to get on his jets.
Remember, no “run-first” QB has ever hoisted a Lombardi Trophy.
2. Jackson Believes He Can Survive All The Big Hits He Takes: Work Smarter, Not Harder
LJ8 is as slippery and elusive as anyone in the open field. But at some point the amount of hits he absorbs will begin to take its toll. He’s missed practice a handful of times due to extreme soreness as a result of being hit so often on Sundays and Mondays.
Player Safety? Ahh…
For everyone upset with the NFL & Refs for NOT giving Jadeveon Clowney a flag or fine for his hit on Eagles QB Carson Wentz…
— Jeff Skversky (@JeffSkversky) January 12, 2020
He’s got to be willing to protect himself more and learn to get down sooner when he does leave the pocket to run so he can be active in practice and work on the fine details that separate the champions from the chumps.
3. Better Deep Ball Accuracy Is Essential To His Continued Development
No one will ever discredit Jackson’s arm strength, and he has plenty of arm to make all the throws. But with those throws you need to have proper mechanics to execute them with accuracy and on time. Despite leading the NFL in TD passes with 36 in his MVP campaign, Jackson’s passing savvy is still under construction.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 7, 2021
LJ is rarely on balance when he’s throwing it short, intermediate or deep. He’s working that side arm delivery to perfection and getting good at sidearm delivery, but that’s not enough to become a more accurate and adept passer from all three levels. Many times the ball sails on him more often than it should, and that’s because of his poor mechanics.
- Less Hero Ball And More Usage Of Weaponry Around Him
Jackson is so used to being the most skilled and fastest player on the field every week that he sometimes forgets about the other 10 guys on the field. The Ravens running back room has been ravaged by injuries, losing its three top backs to injuries prior to the season. So in turn Jackson may have felt the need to do more, and that’s understandable.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 8, 2019
But the Ravens have drafted him some decent pieces on the outside with Rashod Bateman, Hollywood Brown, Devin Duvernay, Miles Boykin and James Proche. Not a bad quintet of pass catchers. Throw in one of the better tight ends in the NFL in Mark Andrews, and the free agency addition of Sammy Watkins, and Jackson has enough at his disposal to be a more reliable passer. He has to learn to let his offense make plays. This is the pros. He doesn’t have to do it all.
- Jackson Needs A New QB Coach And OC
This isn’t something Jackson can personally change, but it is something that needs to happen if he’s going to ascend to that next level.
Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman can scheme up a run game better than most coaches in the NFL, but he isn’t nearly as adept when it comes to developing passers. That’s where Jackson needs to get better. He’s shown improvement, but with his talent and ceiling so high, he should be more advanced by now.
Roman also coached Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco, and we never really saw Kap’s midfield passing game develop. Kap was great in the zone-read game and designed QB runs just like Lamar is.
Ravens QB coach James Urban isn’t the right guy to get Jackson to the next level of his development. You have a pigeon trying to guide an eagle. Urban’s claim to fame was spending some time with Andy “Red Rifle” Dalton in Cincinnati, splitting duties as a wide receivers coach.
Jackson has a legion of fans rooting for him to make the final adjustments in order to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in the near future. The Ravens have to meet him halfway and help this incredible talent reach the top of the NFL mountain.