There are some who really know how to grind an ax. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson would be one of them. And sometimes, an ax just needs sharpening.
The 32nd-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Jackson was a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback out of Louisville. Yet he was subjected to heavy critique during the pre-draft process, with many amateur, unaffiliated, and professional scouts weighing in on his future and arguing that his best bet would be to switch to another position, as Terrelle Pryor did, and Tim Tebow didn’t.
He stuck to his guns, though, and the Ravens believed in him enough to trade back into the first round and nab him. He took over a 4-5 team from an injured Joe Flacco and drove them into the playoffs with a 6-1 finish, with promises of bigger things to come in year two.
He started off his second season by merely becoming the youngest player in NFL history to post a perfect passer rating. He completed 17 of 20 pass attempts for 324 yards and five touchdowns. He only threw for over 200 yards once last season (barely) and threw six touchdown passes in his starts.
“Not bad for a running back”, he quipped during his post-game press conference. And you know he’s been waiting for this for a long time. Many have pegged him as only a runner—he recorded more carries by a quarterback in a single season than anybody else in history last year, despite not starting for most of it—but he only ran the ball three times.
This dominant performance came on opening weekend against the Miami Dolphins, however. The Dolphins are widely being viewed as a team that intends to lose intentionally in order to secure the highest draft pick possible. So much so that there are even reports that multiple players contacted their agents after the loss to try to facilitate trades, because they don’t want to be part of a tanking process.
So Baltimore’s 59-10 shellacking looks great. Jackson’s numbers look great. Marquise Brown looked great. Almost everything looked great. But how will they look next week? That’s the question. Can they sustain offensive success over the course of a full season? Can Jackson really be an accomplished passer fully capable as any franchise quarterback needs to be of winning games with his arm, on a weekly basis?
Opening week is a fun time because half the team’s fanbases are in panic mode while the other half is convinced that this is their year. In most cases, things tend to balance out more and more with each passing week.
And considering that the Ravens just literally had kind of their best game in franchise history, including their most points ever scored and their largest margin of victory, it’s fair to speculate they won’t sustain this particular high. But how high can they keep their median? That’s largely tied to Jackson and how well he can throw the ball…for a running back.