The Most Underappreciated Player in the NFL
Since he has come into the league, Lamar Jackson has done nothing but win. Lamar Jackson is must-see TV and you are guaranteed excitement when you watch the Ravens play. The Ravens made the playoffs one time in the previous 5 seasons before Lamar came into the mix. In 2018 as a rookie, Lamar started a backup, coming in for a few plays from time to time to throw off the opposing defenses. In week 10, John Harbaugh made the call to make Lamar his starting quarterback and they have never looked back. The Ravens were 5-4 at the time not showing any real promise and in came Lamar, ending the season with a 6-1 record to send the Ravens to the playoffs with a record of 11-5. Lamar was the spark that they needed to make a playoff push. As with any rookie, there were mistakes, but his mistakes seemed to be scrutinized more than any other rookie, before Lamar even entered the league there were questions regarding his ability to play the quarterback position.
During the combine, Lamar didn’t take part in the 40-yard dash. Firstly because of the ludicrous calls to have him work out as a wide receiver. This made no sense, apart from the fact that we was unbelievably fast, there was no real basis to have discount his ability as a passer. If you compare his number to Josh Allen who was drafted 7th by the Bills, Lamar completely blows him out of the water. Lamar threw for over 9000 yards compared to just 5000 by Allen, Lamar threw for 69 touchdowns compared to Allen’s 44. There were also questions regarding Josh Allen and his ability to throw accurately on a consistent basis but the scrutiny was nowhere close to that of the former Heisman winner.
Winning and More Winning
Since Lamar Joined the league and became a started halfway through the 2018 season Lamar barely loses. When Lamar Jackson has started the Ravens have a 30-7 record. That’s an 81% win rate, but because his style differs from your ‘traditional’ quarterback he still needs to do more according to a lot of people. Quarterback wins are supposed to be a thing (which a completely disagree with by the way), but with Lamar, they discount everything because they have an image of him, and they refuse to believe otherwise.
Quarterback wins isn’t a good stat, it doesn’t mean much because there are 51 other players on the roster as well as 2 other phases you have no control over. But when a player goes to a team that hasn’t been good in recent years and changes their fortunes it becomes somewhat relevant. All this considered, the impact that Lamar has had on the Ravens cannot be denied, from his first snap as a starter he’s played at a high level putting his team in positions to win.
In 2019, his MVP year, Lamar Jackson led the league in passing touchdowns (36) It wasn’t enough. He had 66.1% pass completion (higher than Mahomes). Again, wasn’t enough. Lamar didn’t throw as much as the other guys because he didn’t need to, Ravens are a run-first team and they always have been AND EVEN THEN, he led the league in passing touchdowns and had 2 games with a perfect passer rating. Read that again, perfect PASSER rating. He became only the 2nd player ever to have multiple perfect passer rating games in a single regular season.
Considering all of that, Lamar had somewhat of a down year last year. Most of the 2019 numbers were down (for his standards), but even then, he a had 73.7 QBR (higher than Brady, Wilson, Watson).
Outperformed but Underappreciated
The Baltimore Ravens and offensive coordinator Gregg Roman have been synonymous with the run game. As an offensive coordinator, Gregg Roman’s team has been top 10 in running and bottom 10 as a passing attack every single year. The system doesn’t help Lamar and the Ravens as a whole need to develop their pass game. I haven’t even begun with the hypotheticals yet ‘what if Lamar had weapons?’ or ‘if only they gave him time in the pocket’.
Does Lamar need to improve as a passer? Absolutely. Does he need to work on his mechanics to take his passing game to the next level? No doubt about it. But there is no way you can tell me that Lamar Jackson isn’t an elite quarterback. It seems to me that the narrative is set differently when it comes to Lamar. One where everyone else is evaluated under one set of rules but the criteria is completely different when it’s Lamar.