From the very beginning, I’ve been pretty critical of the Baltimore Raven’s starting quarterback, Lamar Jackson. From calling him a gimmick quarterback to saying he was the most overrated player on the team, I haven’t been shy about casting aspersions about the young signal caller. 10 weeks into his second season, 16 starts into his career, my takes are looking dumber and dumber by the day. So here it is, my retraction piece. I was wrong about Lamar Jackson. Here’s why.
I Was Wrong About Lamar Jackson
First thing’s first, I don’t like run-first quarterbacks. I think their success is predicated on scheme, it’s a gimmick, and it has a short shelf-life. There’s a difference between run-first quarterbacks and mobile quarterbacks. Guys like Steve Young, Russell Wilson, John Elway, Donovan McNabb, and now, Patrick Mahomes, could extend the play with their legs, but they prioritized passing the ball down the field.
I’m talking about the Johnny Manziel’s, Tim Tebow’s, Robert Griffin III’s, and Michael Vick’s of the NFL that prioritized an inconsistent, if exciting, style of offense. And yes, I know, it’s sacrilege to besmirch the name of Michael Vick, but here’s the thing. On the career? Vick never threw for more than 3,400 yards or 21 touchdowns in a single season, he was only 10 games over .500, and didn’t provide as much on the ground as his highlights would have you believe.
Vick was one of the most exciting players in NFL history, but he was never really a viable starting quarterback. The best ability is availability, and even during his prime, he only ever started 16 games once in his career. The legend of Vick’s potential is much bigger than the production of the actual player. But this article isn’t about Vick, it’s about Lamar, and why I was wrong about him.
Sure, the passing game has changed, but there’s no denying Lamar’s on pace to put up some decent numbers through the air as well. He’s on pace for 3,613 yards, 30 touchdowns, and only eight interceptions through the air, completing 65.9% of his passes. On arguably the AFC’s best team, those numbers alone might be enough to get you into the MVP conversation.
But then, you throw in the rushing numbers, and that’s when things get crazy. He’s on pace for an additional 1,261 rushing yards and 10 rushing scores. That’s a total of 4,874 total yards and 40 scores. Even in 2015, when Cam Newton had duel-threat success, he only had 4,473 yards, albeit with 45 scores.
I didn’t love the player I watched in Baltimore last year. I speculated that with his smaller frame, he couldn’t take the punishment required to play that style of offense. His completion percentage wasn’t great, and the Los Angeles Chargers absolutely stifled him in their playoff game. I worried that he would plateau there, as many great running quarterbacks before him had.
But he obviously committed himself to cleaning up his game this off-season, increasing his completion percentage from an abysmal 58.2 to a respectable 65.9, and he’s pumped his yards per attempt from 7.1 to a flat 8.0 in only a few months. He’s still making plays with his legs, but now, he’s proving that he’s a respectable passer as well.
There’s no reason that he can’t continue to have this level of success in Baltimore, assuming the current coaching staff stays in place and he remains healthy. So, for the very little it is worth, I, like many other who pontificate about sports, was wrong.
I’m sorry Mr. Jackson. Keep doing your thing.