The Baltimore Ravens have been one of the most potent, highest scoring, and explosive offenses over the past two seasons with Lamar Jackson at the helm. He became just the second-ever player to be voted unanimous league MVP in 2019 in just his second season and is arguably the hardest single player to defend.
Jackson and the Ravens were still among the top offensive units in the league last year but had some statistical regression from their record-shattering season. Despite a slight dip in overall production and wins, they still finished 11-5 and won a playoff game for the first time since 2014.
Twitter was lit ablaze over the weekend after ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported a controversial take during an appearance on ESPN’s morning show ‘Get Up’ this past Friday.
.@JFowlerESPN says Lamar Jackson is a sleeper for QB under the most pressure this season— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) August 20, 2021
"There are a lot of people around the league that I speak to ... they say this might be the year that everybody figures out Lamar Jackson." pic.twitter.com/lXP0EUPkUJ
“There are a lot of people around the league that I speak to that are talking a little slick,” Fowler said. “They say this might be the year that everybody figures out Lamar Jackson. There’s sort of that feeling right now. He can definitely prove that wrong, but I think there’s a little bit of pressure on him right now.”
Fowler listed Jackson as a player that may be under more pressure this year than people think based on what he’s been hearing from those anonymous league sources. When asked what he thought of those reports and the narrative that opposing defenses are going to figure him out this year, Jackson had this to say on Tuesday.
“I mean, I’m going to keep playing football. We’re going to see, but I doubt it,” said Jackson about getting ‘figured out’. “I strongly doubt it. We’re going to play ball.”
Finding out ways to better defend the Ravens’ offense is one thing, but ‘figuring out’ the most dynamic dual-threat quarterback in league history is not only easier said than done, it’s also nearly impossible. The threat Jackson presents with both his legs and throwing arm is so dangerous, and makes him extremely difficult to defend.
On any given play and sometimes in what seems like an instant, he can score from anywhere on the field by either running the ball in himself or distributing it to one of his teammates. While something similar can be said about some of the other dual-threat quarterbacks around the league and coming down the pipeline from college, none of them are as electrifying, productive, or lethal as Jackson is with his legs.
Over the last two seasons, he became the only quarterback in NFL history to record consecutive seasons of over 1,000 yards rushing. One thing that is amazing and often gets lost whenever that stat is mentioned is the fact that he’s only played 15 of a possible 16 in both seasons and that in several blowout victories, he was pulled from the game early.
Heading into his fourth season, Jackson is eligible for a contract extension that will keep him in Baltimore for the foreseeable future. His 2018 draft mate, Josh Allen, was the first of their class to receive a mega-deal and many believe that the Ravens are now on the clock to get one done with Jackson. However, the 24-year-old star signal-caller remains focused on continuing to improve as a player, becoming even more comfortable in the offense and elevating those around him.
“My fourth year, I know what I’m doing a lot more than I did before. So it just makes my job a lot easier,” Jackson said. “And these guys are working hard, they working their butt off in this hot sun. This humid heat. We’re just gonna keep grinding, we know the sky’s the limit.”
The sky will definitely be the limit for Jackson and the Ravens this year even if they have a slow or rocky start to the season because they have several key players returning from injury. John Harbaugh-coached teams are known for heating up down the stretch once they’ve hit their stride. After winning their first playoff game with Jackson under center last year, the goal is to go even deeper and hopefully all the way in 2021.