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Lamar Jackson: The Bad

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What Lamar Jackson needs to improve on in 2019

Washington Nationals v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Part two of my breakdown looks at areas that need improve in Lamar Jackson’s game (see part one here). ‘Action Jackson’ can put crumbling pressure on a defense when he plays with rhythm and confidence. When he doesn’t, his game feels erratic and rushed. Taking a look at the film, there’s plenty of room for improvement within Jackson moving forward.

The Bad: awkward mechanics, gets too excited

Another factor was failing to aim the nose of the football high enough for it to sail over the defender and drop into Andrews’ bucket.

On Jackson’s bad throws, he’s lazy. He said it himself. He short arms the ball. He doesn’t follow through to his target. He doesn’t drive off his back foot. Watch how Jackson’s last step before releasing doesn’t transfer from his back foot to his front short. This is the reason the pass didn’t reach its intended destination.

On this throw, he has a few excuses. It was raining heavily, the ball was wet, it was a throw from the right numbers across the field. However, that didn’t stop Jameis Winston from making this throw in the same conditions.

Winston points the nose of the football up to make sure it gets a high enough trajectory to cut through the rain. Joe Flacco is an expert of slicing through wind and rain. Jackson needs to take notes (especially if there are as many games with inclement weather as their were in 2018).

Lamar Jackson’s side arm throws tend to be errant more than his traditional arm slots. It causes problems with his trajectory, where he doesn’t control the angle that the ball is coming out of.

There were also countless instances where miscommunication appeared evident between quarterback and receiver. Jackson seemingly wanted receivers to sit down when they found the soft spot.

Receivers often continued on their route, in turn causing Jackson to throw the ball behind them. He routinely wasn’t squared up towards where the receiver was going, rather to where they were. That was displayed in the second clip where the ball was behind John Brown.

Miscommunication would be a much easier fix than Jackson not following through to where his target is headed.

This pass is extremely frustrating. Similar to missing Mark Andrews across the field against Tampa Bay, Jackson misfired here. The mechanics were a little better, but the idea is to throw where the defense is not.

Brown flattened out to run away from his coverage, but again, Jackson was pointed more downfield. Brown and Jackson certainly weren’t able to click the way Brown was early in the year with Flacco.

Here, Jackson made a bad read, then threw a bad ball. Chris Moore had one on one and easily beat his man well past the first down marker.

Jackson angled the nose of the ball high, so this one sailed. Brown broke back inside, but Lamar threw it as if it were an out route, which still would probably have been high.

Maybe his intention was to throw the ball away and take the three points, which is fine.

Overall, Lamar was rushed into starting last season, seemingly on a whim. He was electric enough to make the plays needed to make the post season.

He also had growing pains. Some of the easiest throws were his worst, and some of the highest difficulty throws were his best.

Without practicing with the first team, Jackson didn’t have a chance to build chemistry with his receivers. This resulted in countless miscommunications and wasted opportunities. A full offseason should help his confidence, allowing the game to slow down.

Clearly, Jackson has spent a majority of the summer throwing and working on his mechanics.

Going back to Jackson’s days at Louisville, particularly his first two seasons, he had much more mechanical problems in his delivery. His base was comically narrow, and far more passes sailed than last season.

His completion percentage improved every year from his time in high school through his junior year in college. His 58% rate was nearly identical to his final season at Louisville, and I anticipate he will have his highest completion percentage of his football life in 2019.

The Bad: short-arming outside screens

Another bad habit Jackson needs to improve upon is gator-arming screen throws. #8 missed a few simple screen passes that should’ve been easy first downs, yet turned into drive killers due to lazy form.

This ball didn’t need to be fired out of a cannon. There were three tight ends lined up against two defensive backs, one of which was playing off.

Jackson’s rushed throw, turning what should have been an easy first down and more into third and long.

A soft touch pass on target is much preferred to a bullet here. Just make sure the ball gets there. This wasn’t a tight window. Make the easy throw easy.

Maybe Jackson was trying to get Hurst started upfield, but should’ve just gotten the ball there first. Offseason reps will help.

This isn’t professional level quarterback play. Plain and simple. There’s no excuse for missing this one so badly.

One major telltale of how accurate Jackson’s pass will be resides in his back leg. Quarterback gurus will explain how imperative the transfer of weight from the back foot to the front foot is. Planting on the back foot, then driving on the front foot creates the torque necessary to fire the ball from sideline to sideline and end zone to end zone.

When Jackson is at his best, he has good knee bend in his back leg, then transfers through his front leg and hips to throw lasers.

On the contrary, when Jackson appears to overthink his mechanics he stands tall. Standing tall isn’t a bad thing, as long as you split your feet and transfer weight from back foot to front foot. This transfer allows passers to create momentum moving forward towards their target. If you don’t successfully transfer weight forward, then you will be forced to overcompensate with your upper body.

Some non-traditional passers are plenty comfortable doing so, but they’re also aware of the separation happening. The most unconventional and unique passes have been practiced thousands of times. Ask Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and company. I’m sure their teammates will attest that every discombobulated throw has first been tried and tested in practice first.

The Ravens retained faith in James Urban, who possesses profound knowledge expanding far beyond my own, to tutor and tweak Lamar Jackson as he progresses through the trials and tribulations that trouble young quarterbacks. Time, patience, reps and error will all be necessary to give the Ravens young gunslinger the tools to succeed.

If these areas aren’t improved on, among others, then expect regression in year two.