Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson is prepping to make the sixth start of his career. The Los Angeles Chargers present a different challenge than he’s had in the past.
“The speed,” Jackson said on Wednesday. “I feel like that’s going to be the fastest team we face all season. We’re just preparing right now.”
Los Angeles have the highest ranked defense in points allowed (ninth) and yards allowed (eighth) that the rookie has faced. Specifically, the Chargers are stout in stopping the run, having allowed just 1,452 yards during the season — ranking ninth in the NFL.
Since Jackson took over the helm from Joe Flacco in Week 11, he has rushed for 427 yards and two touchdowns. Pairing with Gus Edwards — who has 486 rushing yards and two touchdowns in that same span — the Ravens have molded themselves into the number two rushing offense in the NFL. With the two teams clashing against one another, something has to give.
None of the teams that the 21-year old quarterback has started against before this game have had a top-20 rushing defense, let alone top-10. Jackson sees the matchup being as tough as any other that he’s faced.
“Every team in the league is tough,” said Jackson. “It’s not like college, where some teams might be ranked lower than the other. Every team is good. You never know what you’re going to face until you’re out there.”
The Chargers are not just any other defense. They have three defensive ends in Melvin Ingram, Issac Rochell and Joey Bosa who can all cause trouble for opposing quarterbacks. The trio has combined for 16 sacks and along with Derwin James’ 3.5 sacks and Darius Philon’s three. The Chargers could possibly neutralize Jackson’s scrambling ability. 14 players on Los Angeles’ defense have been involved in sacking a quarterback this season.
“All of them to the ball – all 11 to the ball at all times,” Jackson said of the Chargers defense. “They’re flying around, making plays, making turnovers. They’re a good defense.”
James, a fellow first-round selection, is an important key for Baltimore’s offense to pay attention to. The young safety leads the team in tackles (93) and interceptions (3). He was just selected to his first Pro Bowl.
In Jackson’s first five starts, he’s been able to lead his team to a 4-1 record, with his only loss coming against the Kansas City Chiefs. Now facing off against Los Angeles in another road environment and a West Coast trip, Jackson will need to have the same poise that he has shown early in his career.
“You have to stay focused at quarterback when you’re trying to win the game,” Jackson said. “You can’t get out of whack or get frustrated out there. Your guys are depending on you, so that’s probably where it comes from, that we want to win.”