While the Pittsburgh Steelers are busy readying themselves to play host to the Indianapolis Colts, the AFC North—leading Baltimore Ravens have a steeper challenge on their hands as the defending-champion, undefeated New England Patriots pay a visit to their humble abode.
The Ravens have talked a fine game leading up to the game during the week of not being intimidated by the Patriots, both what they have done in the past and what they have accomplished this season—particularly on defense. Their contention: the Patriots haven’t seen an offense like ours, or another quarterback quite like Lamar Jackson.
Jackson is stating quite a case early in his career of being in an entirely different class of running athletes at the quarterback position, even getting off to a better start in his career than did Michael Vick in that regard. But as is always the case with dual-threat athletes at this position, much of their viability is also tied to their durability.
The 2018 first-round pick hasn’t dealt with injuries much at all yet so far through the first season and a half in his career, though he has taken some hits. And he told reporters that he is not worried a bout taking more.
In fact, as Mike Florio helpfully transcribed, Jackson told Mike Tirico that he doesn’t believe he’s taking too many hits. “I’m not”, he said. He told Tirico that he has to watch the game closer, and that he is really not taking many hits. “I got it figured out”.
“I play ball to win”, he added after pointing out the numerous different ways and scenarios in which he could get injured. “I don’t worry about getting injured”.
Presumably, his coaches do, but they also know that his running ability is a vital asset not just to their quarterback, or to their offense, but to the team as a whole. Even the organization. If Jackson is not running, it devalues everything they’re doing and accomplishing, because his elite mobility at the position is something that has so far separated them from others. Their 11-3 record in his 14 games he’s started helps make the case for him.
“I’m going to do what got me here to help me succeed”, he said, and “help my team keep winning. That’s all I can do. I can’t stop you guys” from saying, he went on, that he is taking too many hits, and that an injury is an inevitability as it seemingly has been for every other mobile quarterback.
But you can’t play with a fear of injury, because you will struggle if you do, focusing your attention on protecting yourself, which could even inadvertently lead to an injury. Jackson will play his game until he can’t anymore, and that is really the right approach, I think, to utilize the talent that separates him from the rest of the league.