Silencing More Critics Photo Credit: Baltimore Ravens/Shawn Hubbard

Street Talk Silencing More Critics

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Lamar’s Critics Are Suddenly in Mute

 

The chants of “MVP” grew louder and the critics grew quieter as quarterback Lamar Jackson took a knee to seal the Ravens lopsided victory over the New England Patriots.  

When later asked about the fans’ reaction, Jackson had to pause to collect his thoughts.

It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate the sentiment.

But Jackson defines his success by wins and losses. He has no problems with his own stats if the Ravens win the game.

However, it’s Jackson’s performance that has carried the team this season.

He is on pace to throw for 3,000 yards and run for another 1,000. Some say Jackson is redefining the quarterback position. However, that’s not entirely true because there just are not many athletes who have his skillset. 

In the end, he’ll only be happy if the Ravens win the Super Bowl. An MVP trophy won’t mean much if the Ravens have an early exit in the playoffs. 

“It’s pretty cool, but like I said before, I’m focused on winning,” Jackson said about the crowd’s reaction. “We got it done. We just have to build, get ready for [Cincinnati] next week.” 

A debate over Jackson erupted again the day after the Ravens pounded the Patriots 37-20. Jackson finished with 61 yards rushing on 16 carries with two touchdowns. He also completed 17 of 23 passes for 163 yards with a touchdown and a 107.7 passer rating.

While most of the national pundits lauded his performance, there was still some skepticism about Jackson being able to make it through the entire season with his style of play.

Eric Mangini, the former head coach of the Jets and Browns, is still one of the few vocal critics.

“Look, I was impressed by Baltimore to some degree,” Mangini said on FS1’s “Speak For Yourself.” “I think if this is how you want to play football and you want to take your quarterback and turn him into a running back who also happens to pass every now and then, then that’s great. 

“You can’t sustain it. There’s a lot of good, young running quarterbacks. There aren’t very many good, old ones. When you consistently expose a player like that to hit after hit, it’s the law of averages in the NFL and it’s going to catch up to you.”

The Ravens have scoffed at that type of criticism ever since Jackson took over the starting job last season when Joe Flacco went down with a hip injury.  Jackson led the Ravens to victories in six of their final seven games and the AFC North crown.

The Chargers knocked off the Ravens 23-17 in the first round of the NFL playoffs. Many pundits thought Los Angeles had provided a blueprint on how to stop Jackson. 

Nope.

Jackson has the Ravens on track to win a divisional title and a home playoff game for the second straight year.

He has thrown for 1,813 yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. Jackson has run for 637 yards with another five scores. He is averaging 6.43 yards per carry, which ranks No. 1 among all qualified NFL rushers. San Francisco running back Raheem Mostert  is second at 5.58.

“He’s wise beyond his years in a lot of ways,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Here’s a guy that, I’ve said it many times, he has a very high football IQ. He also understands the moment. He has poise. 

“It just goes to the way he thinks and the way his mind works. He has an amazing ability to take a lot of factors, a lot of things – play clock, play call, personnel, formation, defense that presents, whatever changes that have to made – and just process all of that in that kind of a moment, which is what makes the position at quarterback so difficult. That’s why Tom Brady is so good at it, too. Lamar [Jackson] does it his way, but Lamar does it as well as anybody. He did a great job tonight, and the whole world saw it.”

Jackson is at his best when he wants to silence his critics, according to one former coach.

Maybe the Ravens should encourage the naysayers. Let there be more critics.

The silence would be deafening if Jackson can hoist the Lombardi Trophy on Feb. 2, 2020. 

 

 

 

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Todd Karpovich

About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich
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