The Baltimore Ravens are in a bit of a limbo situation right now. We don’t know at the moment whether or not quarterback Lamar Jackson is going to be under center for them by the time the regular season starts. That they will at least place the franchise tag on him is obvious; that they won’t eventually trade him is less known.
But at least we know who their new offensive coordinator is, and what he thinks of Jackson—if he ever gets to coach the man. Todd Monken held his introductory press conference yesterday for the Ravens and was naturally asked of his impressions of Jackson.
“He has an elite skillset; it’s obvious when you watch him on film, the things he can do with the football and the plays that he makes”, he said, via the team’s official transcript. “I think he’s underrated as a passer in terms of his ability to make plays and throw it down the field”.
It is true that Jackson has made strides as a pure passer in the last few years. That’s corresponded with more pass attempts per game, although his yards per attempt dipped this past season. In 12 games in 2022, he completed 203 of 326 pass attempts for 2242 yards with 17 touchdown passes to seven interceptions.
Still, many remain skeptical about how far his pure passing skills can actually carry him when the game is on the line and that’s the only way to mount a comeback. The Ravens struggled to close out games last season—perhaps one of the reasons they moved on from Greg Roman as offensive coordinator. Monken was asked to explain what he sees in Jackson the passer that he believes is underrated, though, and he demurred.
Instead of offering anything concrete about aspects of his potential franchise quarterback’s game he thinks doesn’t get enough credit, he deferred to the original narrative that came with Jackson when he entered the 2018 NFL Draft.
In his defense, he seemed reluctant to make declarative statements as a matter of keeping things simple and also because he understands that he hasn’t gotten a chance to work with him before. Nevertheless, to have a quarterback who is regarded as possibly inferior to his elite peers in a key aspect and to have no concrete examples to explain why that area of his game is underrated is notable.
It’s not that there isn’t any throw Jackson can’t make. If you want to talk about ‘arm talent’, he’s got that. There’s also the question of just how much of a pure passer he really needs to be in order for the Ravens to have success. When he’s healthy and the defense isn’t giving up double-digit leads, Baltimore has been incredibly successful with him.
But the Ravens didn’t move on from Roman because they were completely satisfied with what they were doing with Jackson. It’s obvious that they’re hoping Monken can do something more. And so is All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews.