So, this column is not some sort of knee-jerk reaction to what probably stands as Lamar Jackson’s worst regular-season start of his short but brilliant career. It’s a career that shows Jackson with a 24-5 record in 29 regular-season starts from 2018-2020.

That worst game was the rough 28-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Nov. 1. The Ravens punched through the Steelers’ vaunted defense to total 457 yards, with the breakdown showing 192 passing yards and 265 rushing yards. Contrast that with 221 total yards for Pittsburgh, and it’s still a bit of a head-scratcher how the Ravens lost — that is, until you look at the game Jackson played.

Two interceptions (including an early pick-six) and two fumbles (one during an important drive in the red zone) were devastating. Those four turnovers by No. 8 aided the Steelers directly, but they also took the steam out of his teammates a couple too many times.

Let’s be real for a minute. I would still easily take Lamar Jackson over any of the four quarterbacks taken before him in Round 1 in the 2018 draft. Those four were Baker Mayfield (who went No. 1 to the Cleveland Browns), Sam Darnold (No. 3, New York Jets), Josh Allen (No. 7, Buffalo Bills) and Josh Rosen (No. 10, Arizona Cardinals).

Two of those four — Darnold and Rosen — could end up being total flops like many first-rounders. Rosen already is, and Darnold will certainly have to take a step back and latch on with a team for which he can back up in order to move forward, a la Ryan Tannehill.

For the record, Jackson was the final pick of the first round at No. 32.

But while Jackson has been brilliant for much of his career, his play in last season’s playoff game at M&T Stadium against the Tennessee Titans seems to have been a turning point in Jackson’s short career. The Titans did some things defensively that took Jackson out of his comfort zone and limited his ability to run when things broke down with his protection.

After the club’s first loss of 2020 against the Kansas City Chiefs, Jackson alluded to the fact that some of what the Chiefs did reminded him of what the Titans had done to him last season. We saw a repeat of those same problems against the Washington Football Team, which is just 12-27 since 2018.

Clearly, the Ravens’ offense is missing perennial All-Pro right guard Marshal Yanda, and his loss can’t be understated. But something more seems to be at play. The Lamar Jackson of 2020 is looking a lot more like what we thought Lamar Jackson of 2019 would look like.

The area that is always of great concern when you have an athletic, dual-threat quarterback is whether or not he’ll play it fast and loose with the football. That version of Lamar Jackson simply didn’t exist during the regular season in 2019.

What’s a bit disappointing is that fast-and-loose guy is all too often the guy we are seeing in 2020. In 15 regular-season starts last season, Lamar Jackson threw for 36 touchdowns while throwing just six interceptions. This season through seven games, Jackson has just 12 touchdowns while throwing four interceptions.

Ironically, this is the week that one of his closest friends on the team, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, tweeted, “what’s the point of having souljas when you never use them (Never!!)” It’s since been deleted.

Since then, Jackson essentially said Brown is right and it’s on him (Jackson) to make the adjustments. But it also seems that is where offensive coordinator Greg Roman needs to step in. You can’t put Lamar at risk 15-18 times per game, but it does seem that the team is taking far fewer chances at proactively having Jackson simply run the ball.

All in all, the old adage in every sport is that it’s a game of adjustments. When your opponent figures out how to get you out of your game, it’s your responsibility to then make an adjustment to figure out a different way of accomplishing your goals.

It seems rather than imitate what made them successful in 2019, Roman needs to hit the reset button and figure out the new things they can do to start to wreak havoc on opposing defenses.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Stan Charles

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