Lamar Jackson had the worst day of his career this past Sunday from a passing standpoint. He only completed two passes over eight air yards. He failed to find a rhythm, often holding the ball too long in clean pockets, or scrambling himself into sacks.
The Steelers dared Jackson to throw deep, which he elected not to. Jackson was third in the NFL in deep passes attempted through four weeks, totaling 26. Against the Steelers he only attempted two such throws. One was a fluke “interception” by Devin Bush, the other sailed over Seth Roberts head late in the fourth quarter because Jackson hesitated.
After finding Mark Andrews early and often, the Steelers took him away. Jackson missed several open receivers on the outside.
Since his days at Louisville, No. 8’s greatest strength has been his pocket presence combined with his ability to manipulate coverage with his eyes. His pocket presence was virtually non existent Sunday, and he stared receivers down far too often.
Jackson also missed badly on double backside slants. With Hollywood in the slot and Miles Boykin split out wide, both receivers created separation. Boykin was open immediately, although Brown gained a step as well. A well placed pass to either receiver would’ve resulted in a touchdown, but Jackson threw the ball well behind ideal placement and the Ravens settled for a field goal.
It appeared after a few bad bounces and missed calls, Jackson decided to take a more conservative approach. He made plays with his legs constantly while avoiding any big hits, which has been a glowing positive throughout the 2019 regular season.
Jackson also found a way to move down the field and tie the game at 20 a piece, allowing the Ravens to win in overtime.
Considering Jackson’s greatest fundamental strengths seemed to disappear, this game should be more of an outlier than the norm. A bump in the road as a part of the learning curve for a 22 year old star in the making.
Jackson’s throwing mechanics remained strong when he was in rhythm. There also haven’t been any shockingly misplaced passes. His misses are becoming more slight, rather than glaringly uncalibrated.
In my preseason Lamar Jackson preview, I predicted that Jackson would have two absolute clunkers this season. Consider this game one of them. Although, he did throw a strike to his Broward County Bro, finding Hollywood in the red zone for six.
The Ravens were able to grind out a tough game in a tough environment, and stand above the rest of the AFC North after five weeks. Jackson so often picks up those around him. If the other 52 are able to uplift Jackson on his worst days, this team will only solidify more and gain confidence as a whole.
What did you think of Jackson’s performance?