Lamar Jackson wasn’t able to lead the Ravens to a win over the Chargers in the playoffs, but he still has a very bright future in Baltimore.
Fans booed, the season came to an end, but the future is still very bright for Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.
Optimistic Ravens fans may have hoped that Lamar Jackson would become the start of this year’s NFL Playoffs, but that was always unlikely. His inability to lead the Ravens to a home win over the Chargers shouldn’t do anything to dampen the optimism surrounding his future in Baltimore.
That doesn’t mean Jackson was good against the Chargers. He was absolutely part of the reason his offense looked to helpless against the Los Angeles defense. Jackson found some running room, but his inability to get anything going through the air made the Ravens offense too predictable to succeed.
Expect to hear lots of fans and pundits start to question whether or not Jackson really has what it takes to succeed as an NFL signal caller. They will simply reprise criticisms that dogged Jackson before he was drafted late in the first round by Baltimore. You will read several columns from dogged traditionalists arguing that Jackson isn’t a good enough passer to really lead the Ravens to postseason glory.
That’s all nonsense. The NFL changes at a rapid rate. John Harbaugh and company found a way to zig while the rest of the league zags with Jackson at the helm of their offense. Even if Harbaugh leaves the team this offseason, Jackson will benefit massively from a full preseason as the team’s No. 1 quarterback. Whoever coaches Jackson in 2019 will go to great lengths to build the offense around his unique set of skills.
The playoff loss to the Chargers shouldn’t cause anyone to overlook the reality that Jackson led the Ravens to a 6-1 record in the regular season as a starter. If the franchise would have gone back to Joe Flacco when he returned from injury it’s very likely Baltimore would have missed the postseason altogether.
Instead of focusing on what the Ravens couldn’t do against Los Angeles, everyone in the Charm City needs to figure out how to build around Jackson for the future. He’s really the only big play threat the Baltimore offense enjoyed this season. That makes it far too easy for good defenses to focus all of their energy on stopping him. It’s essential for the Ravens to add more skill players who can make plays in space this offseason.
Of course, Jackson needs to work to become a better passer. He ran the ball at a prodigious clip for a quarterback down the stretch. He does a good job avoiding hits, but he can’t keep that up for a full 16 game slate. He doesn’t need to become Joe Montana with his arm, but the better he can become as a classic, drop back passer the more dangerous this offense will become.
Jackson is far from a perfect quarterback, but he’s also a long way from being a finished product. Everyone associated the Ravens needs to lean in to him as the franchise quarterback if they want their team to return to the playoffs next year.