The Baltimore Ravens have stood out in recent years as one of the most productive offenses in the NFL, but much of that has stemmed from quarterback Lamar Jackson’s ability to impact the running game. He already has more than 3,000 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns in his career.
Can relying more on the passing game, especially as Jackson continues to come into his own as a passer, make this Ravens offense even more potent? Former Pro Bowl quarterback, 15-year veteran and current broadcaster Ron Jaworski believes so.
“Lamar Jackson has improved as a quarterback that throws with better accuracy,” Jaworski said on Glenn Clark Radio Oct. 11, before calling the Ravens-Colts game for Westwood One. “If you get to the NFL, you can throw the ball with accuracy. To me, it’s about repetitive accuracy. If you get a guy open, do you hit him or do you miss him? I’m seeing a much more consistent Lamar Jackson down the field.
“The dink-and-dunk throws, every quarterback in this league can hit those. But you’re going to get two or three opportunities per game where you get a shot down the field and you’ve got to hit those. You’ve got to hit those explosive plays. Clearly, I’ve seen improvement in Lamar Jackson in that regard.”
Jackson’s improvements are clear. With 1,519 passing yards to date, he’s already thrown for more than he did during his 2018 rookie season (1,201) and is on pace to improve upon his 2020 numbers in terms of passing yards (2,757) and completion percentage (64.4).
Even on a game-by-game basis, Jackson is improving. After passing for 235 yards and a touchdown in an overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 1, he has improved on that tally every week. It all led up to the 442-yard, four-touchdown performance on “Monday Night Football,” saving the Ravens from what appeared to be a devastating loss to the Colts.
Jackson’s maturity has improved beyond just his ability to throw the ball down the field with accuracy. His increased understanding of NFL defenses — and what those defenses are trying to do to shut him down — has allowed him to take the Ravens’ offense to another level, even after losing top running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards to injury. The Ravens brought in veterans Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell to replace them.
Jaworski made reference to a Hall of Fame quarterback in explaining how teams can maintain balance on offense.
“[Peyton Manning] always talked about Edgerrin James. He would never put Edgerrin James in harm’s way, and I say that in this regard. If a team loaded the box, if there was a running play called, Peyton was getting out of it,” Jaworski said. “There was not going to be a situation where they couldn’t block the guys that are going to hit Edgerrin James.”
“I think that’s an outstanding rule for playing the quarterback position and orchestrating your offense,” he continued. “If those safeties are deep, that’s when you run it. When you’ve got a light box, you hand the ball off and you’re going to get 5 yards per attempt.”
The Ravens are still yet to play at full strength in their passing game as well. 2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman is still on injured reserve but is expected to be activated in the very near future as an additional weapon for Jackson and the Ravens offense. Jaworski is optimistic that he can make an impact as he gets healthy and settles into the professional lifestyle.
“Clearly, there’s been practice, there’s been a training camp, there’s been offseason programs. I’m sure he’s been working with all the quarterbacks in understanding this offensive scheme,” Jaworski said. “But like any rookie, there are different levels of, ‘Are guys ready, or are they not ready to play? Only time will tell.'”
For more from Jaworski, listen to the full interview here:
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