Outside of perhaps Mike Vick, there likely hasn’t been a quarterback in NFL history more associated with running the football than the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson. Five years into his career, he has already set numerous rushing records at the position and has the fifth-most rushing yards for his career. He should become the fourth to eclipse 5000 rushing yards in 2023.
Or perhaps not. Because according to the quarterback himself, the Ravens’ offense moving forward will be predicated upon “Less running and more throwing”, as he told reporters yesterday during his first appearance on a field since his injury late last season, via the team’s website.
Jackson has 4,437 career rushing yards, so he would need to rush for more than 500 yards to hit 5000 this year. That remains very doable even if he runs less frequently than he had in the past, of course, but there are many changes to Baltimore’s offense we will have to observe as it plays out.
The biggest change was parting ways with Greg Roman as offensive coordinator, who rebuilt the Ravens’ offense around Jackson. He was replaced this offseason by Todd Monken, who intends to put the ball more in Jackson’s arm than his legs.
To that end, the team has also worked on improving his receiving options, starting with signing Odell Beckham Jr. (as well as Nelson Agholor. They also drafted another wide receiver in the first round with Zay Flowers, paired with the returning third-year Rashod Bateman, another former first-round pick. Add in tight ends Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely, and he should, in theory, have the best receiving corps of his career.
“I hear a lot of noise about throwing and stuff like yards to achieve and stuff, but I’m not really worried about yards as much”, Jackson acknowledged. “It’s about us just winning. So, that will be all – the winning category, if anything”.
Although fans of opposing teams don’t hesitate to chide him for the fact that he only has one career playoff win (he hasn’t played in one since 2020, due to injuries the past two years), he is still one of the winningest quarterbacks in NFL history up to this point in his career. He boasts a 45-16 record, a .738 winning percentage.
But he is willing to do whatever it takes to win at the end of the day, whether that’s throwing or running. “It doesn’t matter about how long I’m going to run”, he said. “Frank Gore played how many years in the league? He was a running back. So, it doesn’t really matter about running. I feel like it’s on you and God”.
Gore, of course, is a former running back who played 16 seasons in the NFL.
Considering former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger only played two years longer, that’s not an unreasonable comparison, though 16-year careers for running backs, especially running backs playing at a high level, are exceedingly rare. Gore only rushed for 2,935 yards with seven touchdowns combined in his final four seasons.