With NFL training camps set to open in about a week, the biggest story amongst the quarterbacks is Baltimore Ravens signal-caller Lamar Jackson’s refusal to sign on the dotted line, which has left his future for this season and beyond in doubt. Will he take the practice field at training camp without that long-term security that players crave? It’s something he’s rightfully earned with his stellar play.
The 2019 unanimous NFL MVP also seems to have bulked up to better handle the physical demands of playing the position. But since that unbelievable 2019 season, Jackson’s first as the full-time starter, his numbers have dipped considerably, including career lows in touchdowns and career highs in interceptions in 2021.
That has FS1 personality and co-host of “Speak For Yourself” Emmanuel Acho wondering if Jackson is regressing or if he will rise again.
“This is really the crux of the conversation, which I hope everybody listens to right here. And right now, if I am the Baltimore Ravens, I need to find out if Lamar Jackson is an outlier,” Ocho said. “What in the world do I mean? Robert Griffin, Cam Newton and Michael Vick, the dominant quarterbacks of our era with their legs and also their arm, their arms dominated the league, but they had all of their major success collectively early.”
— cheese (@Jesse_Cheese) July 14, 2022
What Acho is saying has some relevance, but Newton won an MVP and led his team to the Super Bowl. Vick’s legal troubles derailed him more than on-field play. The dynamic quarterback even returned and played well in his second NFL stint. For Griffin it was immaturity and injuries that hurt him after his phenomenal rookie season.
Acho Explains Defenses Eventually Adjust
Acho continued to talk about defenses adjusting to the dual-threat quarterback.
“Michael Vick, conference championship as far as he ever went in his fourth season. Robert Griffin, wild card round of the playoffs that’s as far as his team ever went in his first year. Cam Newton to the Super Bowl is as far as his team ever went, but that was in his fifth year.”
“I’m starting to wonder, how come, all of the quarterbacks that have a similar style of play [to Lamar Jackson] experienced their success so early. I think defenses started to adjust and the quarterbacks lost a little bit of the fastball off their legs.”
Defenses adjusting is certainly part of it, but in the case of Jackson, no quarterback in NFL history has been hit more in their four seasons. For Newton it was his first six seasons where he took an unreal amount of punishment. Jackson has led the Ravens in rushing each of the past three seasons despite missing numerous games. Some say these dual-threat players that Acho is referring to were victims of terrible offensive scheming and unequipped coordinators, which led to them taking unnecessary punishment.
Lamar Jackson in his first 4 NFL Seasons
He’s started 49 games-(3 seasons—He didn’t start the first 10 games of his career and missed the last 6 last season)
So that’s 12 wins a season, 4300 yds per and 35 TDs per season. That’s elite. That’s win because of.
THATS TOP 10
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) July 12, 2022
The Expectancy Is Jackson Will Bounce Back, Debunking This Notion
After tossing just 16 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last season, Jackson will be looking for a bounce-back season. Jackson’s 37-12 as a starter since entering the league in 2018. He trails only Patrick Mahomes and retired future Hall of Famer Drew Brees in winning percentage among starting quarterbacks since 2018.
Lamar Jackson has been HIM since entering the league:
– 37-12 as a starter
– Unanimous MVP
– 2x Pro Bowl
– 1x All-Pro
– Single season rushing record for a QB
– Most wins by a QB before turning 25
— NFL (@NFL) July 14, 2022
NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks likes Jackson to return to MVP form.
“I absolutely expect Lamar Jackson to be back in MVP form,” Brooks told the network’s audience. “This offense is going back to the way it looked when Lamar Jackson was having his most success. More heavies on the field, meaning more tight ends, more big backs, because when you put the bigs on the field the defense has to counter with more bigs. That gives Lamar a bigger advantage with his athleticism and speed.”
But first he needs to secure the bag, so the saga continues.