Maybe it was a good thing Lamar Jackson got drafted by the Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens have no intention of starting Jackson anytime soon, not with Joe Flacco at quarterback, and it seems like Jackson could use the extra time. Jackson has played three preseason games, including the Hall of Fame game, and it hasn’t been too pretty. It appears he’ll need time to develop.
Jackson has dazzled with some runs, though he has also taken way too many hits. The real issue for Jackson has been his passing, and he admitted he’s struggling after Monday night’s game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Lamar Jackson admits he hasn’t played well
Jackson completed 7-of-15 passes for 49 yards against the Colts before Robert Griffin III came in. He had a rough start, though he got better as the night went on.
“Incompletions,” Jackson said, according to the Ravens’ website. “I came out cold. I started slow. A lot of balls I didn’t like, but I ended up throwing a touchdown. I don’t feel I’ve performed at a high level yet.”
Jackson did throw a nice touchdown, rolling to his right and hitting Chris Moore with a perfect strike for a 7-yard score. That was clearly the highlight, and it showed what he’s capable of. Ravens coach John Harbaugh maintained optimism after the game.
“That’s the great thing about Lamar; he’s confident, he keeps competing and he’s always going to believe he can make the play to turn the game,” Harbaugh said. “He did a great job of doing that. Just keep working, keep getting better in all the little areas. There’s no question in my mind that he’s got a great future.”
Jackson behind the other first-round QBs so far
The other four first-round quarterbacks taken ahead of Jackson have all played pretty well this preseason. That makes Jackson’s struggles stand out a bit.
Jackson’s preseason line is rough. He has completed 18-of-43 passes (41.9 percent) for 201 yards. That’s a paltry 4.7 yards per attempt. He has yet to complete 50 percent of his passes in any of his three games.
Jackson was an exciting player at Louisville and a lot of the criticism he got before the draft was unfair. But even for those hoping Jackson succeeds — it would be a lot of fun if the dynamic playmaking ability he showed at Louisville transferred over to the NFL — it has admittedly looked bad so far. But it’s really, really early in his career.
Jackson will have time to develop
There are things working against Jackson. He talked about having to stay warm while he waits for the call to replace Flacco, and that’s an unusual situation. Jackson is used to being a starter and he won’t need to worry about going into regular-season games in the middle of the second quarter. Jackson has also been working with backups, which doesn’t help. Also, it’s worth remembering that he’s a rookie.
There’s time for Jackson to work on his game. His preseason struggles might cause the Ravens to keep three quarterbacks instead of two this season, but it’s way too early to draw big-picture conclusions off of three subpar preseason performances. It probably does mean there will be less clamoring for Jackson if Flacco struggles at all during this regular season. It seems clear that it’s best if Jackson gets what amounts to a redshirt year. It’s probably good he went to a team that had no intention of starting him right away.
We’re just three preseason games into what hopefully is a long career for Jackson. We don’t know yet what the finished product will look like. But through those three preseason games, we see he has some things to work on.
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