One of Lamar Jackson’s essential assets as a football player is his speed and athleticism from the pocket, which allows him to be a rare threat as a ball-carrier from the quarterback position. There is no better evidence to attest to this fact than to simply city the fact that he set an NFL record, in seven starts, for rushing attempts by a quarterback in a single season as a rookie in 2018 with the Baltimore Ravens.
As he develops more as a passer, however, the second-year quarterback is making his preferences clear. “I hate running”, he told reporters, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.
He went on to say that he will run “only if I have to, but my job is to get the ball to the receivers, the tight ends, running backs. If I have to run, I’ll do it, but I’d rather just sit back and pass it. I like throwing touchdowns instead of running them”.
As a rookie last season, he averaged 17 rushes per game in the seven games in which he was the starter. So far this year, through the first three games of his second season, he is averaging only nine rushes per game, while he has thrown the ball 100 times, thus averaging 33.3 pass attempts per game.
That included a career-high 43 passes last week in the Ravens’ first loss of the season to the Kansas City Chiefs. He completed 22 of those attempts for 267 yards without throwing a touchdown or an interception. Much of that came late as they crawled back from a multiple-possession deficit to at least make the final score presentable.
He did score once in the game with his feet, one of eight carries that he had in that game for a total of 46 yards. He has 27 total rushing attempts so far this season for 172 yards and the one touchdown. As a passer, he has completed 63 of 100 passes for 863 yards with seven touchdown passes and zero interceptions. He actually holds the longest active streak of passing attempts without an interception, now over 200 dating back to last season.
That one rushing touchdown that he had, however, was impressive, as he was forced to make one tackler miss inside the five-yard line, and then beat a second defender to cross the goal line before being bought down.
Of the play, he said that he had to run it because “there was no one open”. He added, “I had to make him miss. I’m one-on-one. I like my chances over anyone one-on-one”.
The Steelers will get their first look at Jackson as a starter the week after next. He was still playing backup behind Joe Flacco in the two games they faced each other in 2018.