Lamar Jackson is the most exciting player in the NFL right now, and his abilities are turning the Baltimore Ravens around.
Jackson has been absolutely on fire in the most recent stretch of games. Coming off his bye week, Jackson dismantled a Patriots defense that was dominating everyone up until that game. He had three touchdowns, one in the air and two with his feet. Jackson showed immense poise as he took advantage of the Patriots man-coverage and leaked out of the pocket whenever he had the chance, rushing for 61 yards.
He’s not a stat-padder in any sense, but he is constantly making the right plays and showing off highlight reel plays every once in a while. Against an abysmal Bengals team, Jackson went 15 of 17 with three touchdowns and ran for 65 yards off just seven attempts, with one touchdown on the ground.
These numbers speak volumes to me in terms of efficiency. Often times, we see the mobile, exciting quarterback that makes big plays with his feet or with a deep-ball, but what you don’t see a lot are the bad decisions made before then that puts them in the position they were in.
Good examples of guys like this are Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick was definitely not this way for a lack of making the right play but more so for a lack of ability. He was never a consistently accurate quarterback, so this led to him relying on his feet to make plays when he was flushed out of the pocket and sometimes before then. He was very much a prisoner to his own game in this sense. A lot of times, if his first read wasn’t there, he would just take off. Once teams realized this, they made adjustments, and Kaepernick was rendered somewhat obsolete.
Newton’s ability has always been somewhat inconsistent, but at least he’s shown that he can be an MVP caliber quarterback for a full season. It’s always been his decision making that’s held him back. He struck me as a guy who wanted the glory and liked to take off and try to make plays with his feet, especially in the red zone. This eventually led to injuries and a lot of red zone fumbles.
Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers have found a better option with Kyle Allen and are sticking with him. The sad thing is really that Allen is not a more talented quarterback than Newton, but he makes the simple throws that Newton simply couldn’t make for the past year and a half.
Ultimately, what sets Jackson apart from these guys is that he doesn’t care how he gets it done. He takes what the game gives him and plays accordingly. He’s almost always throwing in the range of 230-280 yards, minus a few outliers both ways. With the wide receiver core of Hollywood Brown, Willie Snead and Miles Boykin, I’d say this is quite impressive. Mark Ingram having a good season running the ball definitely helps, but Newton had Christian McCaffrey, who is a much better back than Ingram, and he still found a way to get benched.
The key to what I’m saying, I guess, is that Jackson is steady and electric at the same time. That’s really hard to find these days, but he does it nonetheless. In a world where being flashy is popular, Jackson doesn’t make the flashy plays to look cool but rather because sometimes it’s simply necessary.
I’m excited to see how he finishes the season and how he performs in the playoffs. I think the Ravens are a legit Super Bowl contender, especially with this defense finally getting to its full strength. However, only time will tell. It’s a crazy league, and anything can happen.
Thanks for reading, and until next time, enjoy football while you still have it because it’ll be gone before you know it.