The Baltimore Ravens started their 2018 season with a 4-5 record, looking as though they were set to miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive year. While it came down to the last week of the season, however, Baltimore was able to chase down a slumping Pittsburgh Steelers team after injecting rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson into the lineup.
Baltimore went 6-1 with him under center, turning to a run-dominated offense (even Jackson ran the ball nearly 150 times, the most ever by a quarterback in a single season). But going forward, the entire organization understands that he has to develop as a passer. And not only that, he has to stop putting the ball on the ground.
New offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who was the run-game coordinator a year ago, was asked about exactly those things during a press conference yesterday, and he singled them out as top priorities for the Ravens this offseason.
“Let me address the putting the ball on the turf first. I think he knows, we know, and we all collectively know that we can’t do that”, he said of Jackson’s fumbling problem. “That’s No. 1, and that’s going to be a big emphasis. I feel very strongly that that’s going to get taken care of without question. That is first and foremost”.
Jackson fumbled an astonishing 12 times during his rookie season, though he was fortunate to have lost only a third of them. He fumbled three more times in Baltimore’s playoff loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, losing one of them, to bring his total to 15 fumbles, losing five.
As a passer, he completed 99 of 170 pass attempts for 1201 yards, averaging 7.1 yards per pass attempt, throwing six touchdowns to three interceptions. He also rushed for 695 yards on 147 carries for five more touchdowns. In the postseason, he completed 14 of 29 pass attempts for 194 yards. He did throw two late touchdowns to make things somewhat interesting, but also had another interception.
“Lamar has a unique skillset, and just like any young guy, he’s going to develop. So, as far as him throwing the football, we feel great about it, and we saw a lot of improvement last year throughout the season”, Roman said of his quarterback’s throwing.
“And really, he’s only going to get better from here. And, I think there are some fundamental things that were exposed to him last year that he’s really grabbed hold of, and we saw improve”, he went on. “I would say that I don’t know how much they were really, really emphasized in the college game with him. He had a unique ability in college to play a unique style, and I think decisions were made to focus on certain areas when he was in college. The sky is the limit there”.