The sound and the fury was loud and clear after each of Lamar Jackson’s three playoff losses.
Granted, Mahomes already has a Super Bowl ring and will have Kansas City competing for championships over the next decade. Bur for the first time, Mahomes faltered on the big stage; albeit behind an injury-marred offensive line and turf toe.
Jackson has also been a dominant player, but his record-setting performances in the regular season have been overshadowed by going 1-3 in the playoffs over his young career. It’s sometimes forgotten that Jackson has already led the Ravens to the postseason more often than numerous veteran quarterbacks.
Matthew Stafford, who recently was traded to the Rams from the Lions, has been to playoffs just three times in his 17-year career and has lost each of those games. Still, Stafford is being hailed as some type of savior for the Los Angeles franchise.
Jackson could exhale after leading the Ravens to a 20-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans in the wild-card round of this year’s playoffs. The good feelings were short-lived after Jackson threw a 101-yard pick-six in the Ravens 13-3 loss to the Bills the following week in the divisional round.
“He’s just the ultimate competitor,” Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead said about Jackson. “He doesn’t like to lose, and he knows that he can get better. He sees the plays afterwards; he knows that he has to be better at reading through zones and stuff like that. But he’s doing alright.
“He’s going to be good. I just know that he’s going to get better from this like he always does; proving people wrong and just trying to take that next step in his journey. So, he’s doing good, and he’ll be alright.”.
Jackson has created such lofty expectations that anything less than a Super Bowl victory will likely be seen as a failure, fair or not. Jackson has not backed down from that responsibility and has openly said his career won’t be a success until he hoists the Lombardi Trophy, despite an MVP award and numerous NFL records.
The Ravens fully support Jackson and are committed to reaching a contract extension before he can test the free-agent market. A new deal for Jackson would likely be worth about $43.5 million annually over a four-year extension.
“We’ve got a great relationship, he’s got a great relationship with this organization,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said. “He’s a very easy person to talk to. Certainly deserves a contract. He has played phenomenal football over the last couple years. And our intention, and my intention, is to keep him in Baltimore for many, many years.”
Some critics say the team should be careful about a long-term deal because his style of play could lead to injuries. Jackson, however, has managed to stay mostly durable over his three seasons and DeCosta is committed to getting him more support on the offensive line this offseason. Jackson was sacked 29 times last season and eight more times in the playoffs.
Jackson is a generational talent and the Ravens are going to hold onto their most prized asset. He’s actually in good company when it comes to playoff disappointment.
The Ravens are confident Jackson will continue to improve and that will culminate with a championship.
That should leave the critics speechless … for a change.