t’s a well-known fact that a lack of first-hand information on a player can catch a team off-guard and ill-prepared to defend them. This is especially the case when it concerns a player who has a rare or surprising skill set, which would be appropriate in describing Baltimore Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, who entered the starting lineup seven games ago.
Unsurprisingly, Jackson has not started against any opponent more than once so far in his young career, but that will change immediately as the Ravens host the Los Angeles Chargers, whom Baltimore played just two weeks ago. So they will get the first crack at a second look at the 21-year-old who has won six of his seven starts.
Prior to entering the starting lineup, Jackson only attempted 12 passes, completing seven of them for one touchdown and taking one sack. He also had 28 rush attempts for 139 yards and a score. So even though he may have already seen each divisional opponent before starting against them (he did not start against the Pittsburgh Steelers, however), they wouldn’t have gotten an extended first-hand look at him.
Since becoming a full-time starter, Jackson has attempted 158 passes, completing 92 for 1114 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. He has run the ball 1119 times for 556 yards and four more touchdowns. He has been sacked 15 times and fumbled 10 times within that span (and somehow did not recover any of those fumbles himself).
It would be disingenuous at best to suggest that Jackson has been lighting it up. He has put up under 2000 yards of total offense with his arm and his legs and has accounted for 11 total touchdowns. But the Ravens have been winning, and until that changes, nothing else really matters.
Will the Chargers have learned something from their loss to the Ravens, which cost them homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, instead resulting in them being a wildcard team? They would have been 13-3 had they been able to beat Baltimore, a game ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs in their own division for the best record in the AFC.
“It helps a lot because it’s fresh”, said one Chargers defender of their loss from two games ago. “You don’t have to dig weeks back or game plan for a team you’ve never seen before. So it’s good for us that we’ve seen them two weeks ago, and we just have to sharpen the game plan and get better, pick up on things that you didn’t pick up on the first time”.
Many running quarterbacks have been able to have success early in their career because it can be difficult to defend such a player without a proper scouting report on what he can do. Those quarterbacks who have succeeded are the ones who continued to develop their arm as defenses adjusted to their legs. Jackson will have to show that next season—and may perhaps get a taste of that on Sunday as he faces his first repeat opponent.