Baltimore Ravens rookie quarterback LaMar Jackson learned another valuable lesson on Saturday night, as the harshly criticized Heisman winner delivered his most lit performance of the preseason and flexed his passing acumen for the NFL world to see.
8 tossing TDs! Lamar Jackson (@lj_era8) finds a wide open DeVier Posey (@DPo8) for SIX. #BALvsMIA https://t.co/LhcKs4j8Sz
Jackson didnt hesitate to throw some more daggers, at his critics.
“I hope people know I can throw now…,” Jackson told WBAL-TV while walking off the field. “But it’s all good. We had fun and came out with a win.”
In this microwave sports and media moshpit-driven world that we live in, unrealistic fans expect great NFL quarterbacks to develop overnight. Years ago, preseason performances didnt mean jack.
These days, however, if a young, highly-touted quarterback struggles during preseason — which is actually supposed to be a time for young players to get acclimated to the pro game — the media and fans start ripping him, labeling him as incompetent, a potential bust.
Where the Lamar Jackson haters at ? https://t.co/0R9NrYmxTf
Some players are labeled before they ever take an NFL snap. Jackson was roasted by respected former executives and draft analysts before dropping to the bottom of the first round. As hes progressed through his first preseason with the typical rookie challenges, past critics have resurfaced, ripping him for early struggles, especially after he failed to complete his first four passes in his previous preseason game.
Its largely nonsense, but the numbers somewhat supported the haters.
In his initial preseason games, Jackson had completed 41.9 percent of his passes (18-of-43), which was the lowest among all qualifying quarterbacks (those with at least 14 pass attempts per game).
Saturdays performance showed growth and hinted that those early poll returns might be misleading and premature, but thats how it is in todays sports landscape. Every single mistake you make is magnified for the day. At the same time, the news cycle moves so swiftly that theres always tomorrow. One day you suck and the next day you are a fan favorite.
Jackson looked more like the Heisman-winning Louisville quarterback than a struggling rookie trying to get his feet wet in the NFL. After running for a 19-yard touchdown, Jackson capped the next drive by hitting DeVier Posey on a 21-yard TD pass.
LAMAR JACKSON TO THE HOUSE! #BALvsMIA https://t.co/KCE5N2zLiO
In five drives, he finished with 137 yards of total offense and a 134.6 passer rating (out of a possible 158.3).
“I think today was his breaking out in a game,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “We’ve seen it in practice, where he’s done some really good things. We hadn’t really seen it in a game yet. Today just kind of fell in place for him a little bit.”
A TD through the air and one on the ground, Lamar Jackson was IMPRESSIVE. Every throw and run from @Lj_era8’s #BALvsMIA performance! #NFLPreseason https://t.co/kYDvGDpZVU
Jackson didnt stop speaking his mind to reporters. It was obvious he was dealing with a lot of stress and emotional pressure. To be able to have a solid passing game was a huge relief for him and a significant moment in his mental and physical development as a pro.
His passing efficiency’s been criticized, disrespected and some believe, racially profiled during his draft process and early in his career so far.
Bill Polian on Lamar Jackson: “I think he’s a wide receiver and a dynamic wide receiver.” Us once again: https://t.co/m4D6f8yqeW
“A lot of people doubt me on that,” Jackson told reporters. “They always say I’m quick to run when I’m outside the pocket. As you can see, that [pass] can happen sometimes.”
LaMar Jackson is a work in progress. He was never considered a finished, polished product when he entered the NFL Draft, but informed football minds knew that he had special skills and is eager to be coached. With the right offensive mind handling his array of talents, Jackson can develop into a dynamic weapon.
QB @lj_era8 on his touchdown pass to @Dpo8. https://t.co/AELbr12w2N
Saturday night gave us a glimpse into Jacksons bright future and if people would learn to stop rushing greatness, then he has a chance to become everything he believes he can be.
Just six seasons after becoming an instant legend and the prototype for future NFL quarterbacks, Ravens third-stringer RGIII is an afterthought, struggling for a roster spot. RGIII’s mentorship has undoubtedly helped Jackson through some tough times.
He knows better than anyone that its better to finish strong then start off otherworldly and fizzle out into obscurity.