For the last few weeks, I have tried to mull over what I wanted to write each week in regards to the Ravens, what is happening with the team, and what I feel most passionate about. I have settled on stepping on my soap box and preaching to the choir on any issue I see fit. Without further ado, I present…
The first installment of this blog is about the myriad excuses a portion of fans make in regards to Lamar Jackson’s hot start to the 2019 NFL season. While many seem to be coming around to the idea that a player with endless talent may very well be making the most of said talent and coming into his own, there is still a segment that believes he has proven nothing yet. As anyone who follows me knows (go ahead and hit that follow button if you don’t @JL4486), I have been one of the leaders of the Lamar bandwagon since he was drafted. Before the guy took a snap, so many people exclaimed, “he can’t throw!”
I am not going to get into anything that may drive that opinion; it is simply not worth discussing.
The bottom line was simple to me. I watched the tape, I studied the quarterbacks in last year’s draft closely, and I had Jackson as my 3rd best quarterback behind Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold. To me, his talent alone was worth a top-ten pick. In the end, he fell to pick 32 and the Ravens snagged him by trading back into the first round.
There is no question that Jackson was inconsistent with his throwing last season. Unlike other players (who shall remain nameless for this post), Jackson was not afforded any sort of excuse. It didn’t matter that the offense was cobbled together on the fly to try to better fit his skill set. No one cared that his offensive coordinator was not utilizing passing concepts to simplify the game and open up receivers.
Who cares that he was a 21-year old player being asked to step into a tough situation?
The excuses didn’t fly last year, and now that the shoe is on the other foot, there is a whole new list of them…
“Oh, he played Miami!” First and foremost, he wasn’t throwing against air. The Dolphins secondary is objectively a strength with Minkah Fitzpatrick and Xavien Howard, and Jackson made them look fairly silly all game. I do not care what team you face, putting up those Madden level numbers is tough to do and impressive when it happens. Yes, you are supposed to beat the bad teams, but 59-10 against any opponent is impressive.
Nevermind the fact that Jackson consistently used his eyes to bait the safeties in that game to create openings for his receivers.
So next we have the “it was just Miami, I want to see him do it against a real opponent.”
Okay, so now the team heads home to face the Arizona Cardinals, objectively a better defense. What does Jackson do? Carves them up (with some missed throws in there, granted – what QB doesn’t miss throws, I ask?), and he rushes for over 120 yards.
Almost 400 yards of offense himself!
Twice I have been asked since the beginning of the season if I would take the over on Jackson throwing for over 200 yards that day. Both times I said yes, while the other person took the under. Both times he eclipsed that mark, and what happens?
You guessed it…here come the excuses!
If you are going to disrespect the guy’s ability and bet the under, just admit you were wrong and move on. Don’t try to double down on me and say “oh well they made it easy for him. I could have done that!”
No, we are no longer doing this.
If you don’t want to buy in on Jackson after these first two weeks, you likely never will so there is no sense to debate it any longer.
But I am standing on the soapbox and telling everyone: hop on the bandwagon or stay off because the train is leaving the station. No more excuses, no more fighting it – what Jackson has displayed through two weeks is one of the most remarkable improvements I can remember in a quarterback.
Here is my promise: I won’t make excuses when he struggles (and he will, because every quarterback has bad games). Therefore, you cannot make excuses when he succeeds.
Not bad for a running back, that’s for sure!