The Baltimore Ravens have, at least, reached the postseason in each of the past three seasons since they drafted quarterback Lamar Jackson in the first round. They have won the division twice, though they have a 1-3 record in the postseason during that time. Jackson owns a personal 30-7 record as a starter in the regular season.
The 2020 season, however, was something less than the spectacle of his sophomore year in the NFL, when he became the youngest, and second-ever unanimous, league MVP, leading the league in touchdown passes while also breaking the all-time quarterback rushing record.
This past year, he failed to reach 3,000 passing yards while posting a 26-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He again, however, rushed for at least 1,000 yards—the first quarterback to ever do it twice—while leading the league in yards per attempt.
Yet, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler recently reported that he has heard from several people around the league that there is a sense this will be the year the NFL ‘figures’ Jackson out. The rare dual threat, who has far more designed runs than any other quarterback in the NFL, is unlike anything else we’ve seen before, even Mike Vick, whose rushing yards were primarily accumulated on scrambles.
Jackson was asked about the notion that the league will figure him out this year, speaking to reporters yesterday. “We’re going to see”, he said, “but I doubt it, though. I strongly doubt it”.
The Ravens strongly emphasized upgrading the receiving corps around their star quarterback, with whom it is unclear if they will lock down a long-term contract extension before the regular season begins. They signed Sammy Watkins in free agency, and then used a first-round pick to bring in Rashod Bateman, also adding another receiver, Tylan Wallace, in the middle rounds.
Between Jackson missing a couple of weeks of practicing while in the COVID-19 protocols after testing positive, and a series of his wide receivers being sidelined at different times with injuries—currently, that includes Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin, his longest-tenured targets—however, there hasn’t been a ton of time to get the passing game in sync.
Watkins and Bateman have also been sidelined, as well as James Proche and Deon Cain, leaving him to work primarily with the likes of second-year Devin Duvernay and the rookie Wallace. The other four wide receivers currently healthy are rookie or first-year college free agents.