It’s not necessarily an easy thing to deal with failure at any stage in your life, but doing so at a fairly young age and in a very public manner can certainly add to the difficulties, especially when so much is expected of you in particular. Despite his statistical performance, Lamar Jackson struggled last week in his second postseason game, and is now 0-2 in the playoffs for his career.
That is a fact that he pointed out himself, yet when asked about its implications, he also offered that he’s only 23 years old. When Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was asked about it as well, he framed it in a similar manner, trying to provide perspective.
“He’s younger than Joe Burrow, okay?”, he said, referring to the presumptive first-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, who arguably just completed the greatest season by a quarterback in college football history with LSU. “He’s got a pretty good head start right now. I mean, he’s along the way”.
Jackson was 21 when he was drafted with the 32nd pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, later that season becoming the youngest quarterback to ever start a playoff game. Despite going 6-1 in the regular season, he was shut out until it was too late in the Wildcard Round against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Last week’s game against the Tennessee Titans was somewhat similar. This pats season, Jackson went 13-2 in the regular season (resting in the finale, which he surely would have won as well) with the Ravens earning homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Once again, he struggled, despite putting up some lavish numbers as Baltimore’s deficit mounted.
Harbaugh did much to defend his young quarterback, pointing out that Peyton Manning and Eli Manning combined to lose their first five playoffs games, though would go on to win four Super Bowls and play in six. He pointed to some Hall of Famers who didn’t even start a playoff game until their third season or later. “Interesting”, he said.
He was also asked about whether or not he felt that Jackson was being excessively self-critical. “I think he understands what it is to take responsibility”, he offered. “And he also has a great sense of urgency to be successful and what it takes to be successful. So no, Lamar doesn’t lack for confidence. He’s not doubting himself, if that’s the implication that those people are making”.
The former Heisman Trophy winner is expected to add to his display case all the same, as he is the frontrunner to win the 2019 season’s MVP Award. He led the league in passing touchdowns and also broke the record for the most rushing yards by a quarterback. He led an offense that became the first in NFL history to average over 200 yards both rushing and passing in the same season.