Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens were 8-3 and the No. 1 seed in the AFC at one point this past season. Then he injured his ankle, missing the final five games, and the Ravens collapsed. The team lost their remaining six games despite solid QB play from backup Tyler Huntley.
Although Jackson’s play was inconsistent last season, he was a driving force and had the Ravens positioned well in the ultra-tough competitive AFC. This despite being the most-injured team in the NFL. Coming into the 2021 season, the hope was LJ8 would finally have his breakout playoff performance after two duds against the Titans in 2019-20 and Bills in 2020-21.
Lamar Jackson is the first player in NFL history with 400 passing yards and 85% completion percentage in a game.
Jackson accounted for 499 of the Ravens' 523 yards of offense Monday night. pic.twitter.com/uCPdnN5fRu
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 12, 2021
FS1 personality and “Odd Couple Radio” co-host Chris Broussard, talking about NFL quarterback who are under duress this offseason, spoke during a segment on “First Things First” last week about Jackson’s struggles.
“We know he suffered the first serious injury of his career, missed five games with the ankle injury, but beyond that … his play has declined. Ever since he won MVP a few years ago, every year. Touchdowns are down. Interceptions are up. Passer rating is down. And even rushing. He hasn’t rushed for as many yards per game. That’s dropped. And so, Lamar’s gotta prove it again that he’s that guy.”
“And here’s the biggest thing for me with Lamar. He hasn’t signed that lucrative contract extension that’s gonna pay him more than $40 million per year. And, oddly, it seems like there is no urgency on his part to get it done. If he signs a contract this offseason, he’ll come off the list because he’s got his security. But until then, coming off injury, declining production, and a style of play that makes you susceptible to get injured, he’s gotta sign that contract or he’ll be under duress.”
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) December 9, 2020
Jackson’s Regression Not All His Fault: Scheme And O-Line Play A Role
In the Ravens’ season-opening loss to the Raiders, Jackson was dynamic at times and awful at other times. So much that he got FS1 personality Nick Wright talking about his inaccurate passing.
"Lamar Jackson is a league MVP who needs to get better at a very specific part of his game. It's only 1 game but he looks like the same passer as his rookie season. What's putting a ceiling on the Ravens is Lamar's inability to slightly improve on his accuracy." — @getnickwright pic.twitter.com/JC9kqWKS7R
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) September 14, 2021
“All the passes are spraying all over the place. It’s only one game, but he looks like the same passer that he’s been since his rookie season,” Wright said.
Things didn’t get much better for Jackson after that season opener, although he still wowed at times, his inconsistent passing was and is a glaring weakness. But again, it’s not all his fault. The Ravens’ coaching staff and front office have failed Jackson.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman is best at designing great run schemes, not passing game schemes. Let’s not forget he’s the same guy who couldn’t develop Colin Kaepernick.
Then there’s the drafting of receivers and offensive lineman who don’t fit what they’re trying to accomplish as an offense. Jackson was battered in the pocket last season. Some of the sacks were his fault for holding onto the ball too long, some were on the ineptitude of the offensive line.
The team did hire Keith Williams as the passing game coordinator, but he’s still having to run Roman’s scheme, so how much input does he really have?
Ravens new pass game specialist is Keith Williams, a former college coach who is currently working as personal coach for many NFL WRs including Sammy Watkins, Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill
— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) February 6, 2021
In this new setup, Jackson struggled, passing for 16 touchdowns and a career-high 13 interceptions. He also rushed for rushed 767 yards, but a career-low two touchdowns.
Jackson’s 2019 Season Was One For The Ages: QB Caught The League Off Guard
In 2019, Jackson became just the second unanimous MVP, joining Tom Brady in 2010. He led the league with 36 touchdown passes. He also rushed for seven more scores and compiled 4,333 total yards, leading the Ravens to an NFL-best 14-2 record.
in the history of the NFL, every player with
80+ passing TDs and
20+ rushing TDs before their
50th career start:
Lamar Jackson pic.twitter.com/mhW1Iig5BH
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) February 20, 2022
In 2020, that number dipped to 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. And in 2021 he had nearly as many interceptions as touchdowns.
Jackson has the talent to be great, but until he becomes a more efficient and skilled passer and less of a risk-taker this is who he’ll be. Better schemes would help as well, but it begins with LJ8 working to fix what has plagued him since his days as the Heisman Trophy winner at Louisville.
We not talking about it nomore after thiz post‼️ 🚀 https://t.co/8vPskSu9jd
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) February 15, 2022
2022-23 Is The Bounce Back
Jackson’s play last season may have given the Ravens cause for concern about the huge contract. But he is a great player and maybe they can attribute his setbacks to injuries. He’s carried an average Ravens offense most of his time under center, and he’s played his heart out weekly, running and throwing the football.
He needs to put 2021 in the rearview mirror and come out in 2022 and play great. Belief is the Ravens lock him up long term this offseason. Either way he should be much improved after an offseason of healing and working, possibly with that lucrative deal in tow.
More news from our partners: