The Baltimore Ravens are making elaborate preparations in the process of readying the 2019 for the emergence of Lamar Jackson as their full-time starting quarterback. The 32nd-overall pick in 2018, Jackson spent most of the year as a gadget player, but he started the final seven games, going 6-1 and helping the Ravens claw their way back into the postseason with a 10-6 record.
Seeing how he was able to improvise and adapt on the fly, the team this year wants to give their young quarterback the best opportunity to succeed, so they have rebuilt the offense around him and his strengths, as well as he weaknesses. They rewrote the offense to work with plays that fit his skill set—and even changed how they call the plays.
That is according to Jarrett Bell of USA Today, who said that the team has done away with the elaborate terminology of Marty Mornhinweg’s system from last year. New offensive coordinator Greg Roman has greatly simplified the way the plays are called to make it easier on Jackson in the huddle.
“Last year there were games where I wasn’t in command”, the young quarterback admitted. “I’d come in last year kind of nervous, because there are grown men looking at you, depending on you to help them feed their family”.
And it wasn’t just that. He was coming in and starting over Joe Flacco, a quarterback who, in spite of his many flaws, was well-respected by his teammates and coaches. He was initially in the lineup due to injury, but as they continued to win, once Flacco got healthy, they decided to ride with the rookie.
Now they are all in on him after they traded Flacco, a Super Bowl MVP, to the Denver Broncos—who, like the Ravens last year, drafted a quarterback who may end up replacing him sooner or later. Their new backups are more capable of running the mobile offense.
“Now I’m a lot more comfortable just saying different things on different plays to let my guys know where they need to be”, Jackson said of his experience in working with the new offense this offseason. Veteran guard Marshal Yanda said that the difference in his comfort level from last season to this spring has been obvious.
Of course all of this won’t make much of a difference if he doesn’t get better at the most fundamental task of the quarterback position, which is throwing the football with accuracy and velocity at the right spots in the right moments. He had issues with all but velocity as a rookie.
Until he proves he can do otherwise, Ravens opponents’ chief goal every game will be to try to put the game on Jackson’s arm. The Ravens want to run, but if they can’t, there is only one alternative to matriculate the ball down the field.