The 2019 season is an important one for the Baltimore Ravens. This isn’t the case in the same way that every season is important in the NFL, but rather for the development of their new franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson. With the AFC North being wide open heading into this season, Jackson has the chance to stake his claim going forward. But more important than the result of this season, Jackson is fighting to prove that he can carry a team as its top quarterback for years to come.
Last season was an interesting one for Jackson, as he was called into action to eventually start for the Ravens despite opening the year on the bench. The immediate experience saw him face his share of ups and downs, but he did enough to help the Ravens get into the postseason, where they lost in the first round to the Los Angeles Chargers. In year two, Jackson will hope to help the team get deeper into the postseason.
To do so, Jackson will need to be a better passer, something that both he and the Ravens are aware of heading into the 2019 campaign. In the team’s first preseason game of the year, Jackson focused primarily on passing the ball and enjoyed great success in doing so. The question now is whether that focus on being a pocket passer was a self-preservation tactic or something he is going to try to do going forward.
With Jackson relegating himself to the pocket in the preseason, it’s entirely possible that the Ravens starter is going to go back to running once real game action starts. In fact, coach John Harbaugh suggested that Jackson’s rushing attempts would exceed 139 for the season. That many attempts could expose Jackson to potential injuries throughout the year, even if his blinding speed showed the ability to keep defenses honest all last season.
But Jackson’s ability to run and make defenders focus on him is not what is in question heading into 2019. His ability to pass the ball consistently is what the team needs to be able to rely on him going forward, to become a more viable Super Bowl contender. Super Bowl odds for NFL betting have the Ravens in the middle of the pack heading into the season, which is a direct result of the team not being able to fully rely on Jackson’s arm just yet. With the defense Baltimore has and their acquisition of Mark Ingram in the running game, one would think they’d be a favorite if not for their questionable passing game.
With so many talented pieces in place for the Ravens heading into the 2019 season, this year will be a big one in the career of Jackson. Given how fast championship windows can open and close in the NFL, it is entirely possible that Jackson could help the Ravens make the most of another window if he can continue to develop as a quarterback. Early returns this preseason have been promising, and Ravens fans will surely have their eyes on him to see if that continues.