Aside from discussions regarding a new contract, offseason talk for Lamar Jackson has centered around lining up more under center and improving his deep ball to better balance the Baltimore Ravens offense.
A transcendent talent whose fleet feet have carried him to accomplishments no quarterback has ever realized, Jackson has been able to confound defenses whether improvement in the passing game is needed or not.
Now the conversation has turned to a recent report that some within the league believe 2021 will be the year in which defenses figure out how to stop Jackson.
With a grin and ample confidence, Jackson politely disagreed with that narrative on Tuesday.
“I’m gonna keep playing football and we’re gonna see. But I doubt it, dude. I doubt it. I strongly doubt it. Gonna play ball,” Jackson told reporters.
"I doubt it. We're gonna play ball." @Lj_era8 pic.twitter.com/tjmGf2mrfk
Only one quarterback before Jackson had ever reached 1,000 yards rushing in a season. Jackson did it for a second season in a row last year and that was after the Ravens signal-caller won the 2019 AP NFL Most Valuable Player. Therefore, opposing defensive coordinators had an entire offseason to figure out how to halt Jackson following his breakout second season.
As great and fast as Jackson is, figuring him out isn’t always going to matter.
Jackson has been slowed and even stopped in individual games, but he’s emerged for three seasons now with impressive bodies of work.
Now, his focus is on bettering his all-around game and reports on that are positive.
“I’ve always thought that he’s always taken his approach to his technique more serious than a lot of people thought,” left tackle Ronnie Stanley said, via the team website. “So, I definitely see all the improvement he’s made in his passing game, and whatever it is – footwork, arm-angle, whatever – but I know he’s taken the steps to take his game to another level.”
Since he came into the league, Jackson has been followed by critics that say he’s really just a running back, that his small frame will wilt under all the carries and on and on.
Over the past two years, he’s compiled 76 total touchdowns (62 passing, 14 rushing). Perhaps this will finally be the year in which the doubters catch up to Jackson, but his past two seasons in particular, at the very least, lean to giving Jackson the benefit of the doubt that he will continue to be phenomenal rather than figured out.
“My fourth year, I know what I’m doing a lot more than I did before. So it just make 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.”
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