Most of the chatter surrounding the Ravens this offseason has centered around quarterback Lamar Jackson.
How could he improve after last year’s MVP performance?
There were two key areas where Jackson needed to get better — throwing outside the numbers and better accuracy on his deep passes.
Judging from his performance this week in full pads, Jackson has made tremendous strides.
“He’s the whole package in terms of who he is and how he plays,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s been that. He’s been very consistent in what he’s been doing, but he’s also really focusing on improving across the board on specific areas, and he’s worked hard at that.
“So, as we go, we’ll just kind of see where that goes. It’s just a matter of it’s a process, it’s repetition. He’s working really hard at it, like always, and that’s what you appreciate about Lamar.”
Jackson has made pinpoint passes toward the sidelines. On one play, Jackson stepped back and threw a dart just beyond the reach of cornerback Marlon Humphrey and into the hands of Miles Boykin, who pulled down the ball with two feet just inside the sideline.
Later that same practice, Jackson avoided pressure, and instead of sprinting downfield, he found Willie Snead for a 25-yard gain. Jackson clearly has more command of the huddle and he appears to be reading the defense much better.
While it’s still just preseason camp, Jackson has been focused since the first day he stepped foot in the Under Armour Performance Center. That work ethic has only gotten better each year.
“He wants to be in the middle of things,” Harbaugh said. “He loves the guys, he loves practice, he loves meetings. I mean, he likes to be in the middle of stuff. He’s always in … If there’s something going on, Lamar’s [Jackson] probably in the middle of it. That’s just his personality and the way he lives. Sure – he’s a competitor, he’s fun to be around, and he wants to win. Those are all good things.”
Last season, Jackson threw for 3,127 yards and an NFL-high 36 touchdowns, which was also a franchise record. Jackson finished with 1,206 yards rushing — sixth-best in the league and the most by a quarterback in NFL single-season history.
He is poised to have an even more successful season with several young playmakers around him.
“You always need to make yourself better, because the teams you’re playing against, they are trying to stop you and make you look like you’re not that guy [or] what people may portray you as,” Jackson said. “So, my job is to learn more; get my mental state-of-mind right [and] where it’s supposed to be at and get the mental part down-pat. We’re going to go from there. [We’ll] see how the season goes.”
The individual stats are not part of Jackson’s focus. He has a clear goal for this upcoming season: winning the Super Bowl.
“I just know I got to keep doing what I’m doing and keep trying to build up and bring a championship home,” Jackson said.