It’s the year 2022, and those in and around the NFL are still spouting off terrible takes about Lamar Jackson.
The Athletic’s Mike Sando recently published his annual QB tiers list, in which all quarterbacks are ranked into groups (usually five) based on rankings from NFL executives and personnel. Jackson, the Ravens’ star quarterback and the 2019 MVP, was ranked in tier 2 – described as being able to “carry his team sometimes but not as consistently” and “can handle pure passing situations in doses and/or possesses other dimensions that are special enough to elevate him,” but “has a hole or two in his game.”
Perhaps somewhat of a fair evaluation of Jackson – but one anonymous defensive coordinator had an aggressively harsh diagnosis of his play.
“If he has to pass to win the game, they ain’t winning the game,” the coordinator said. “He’s so unique as an athlete and he’s really a good football player, but I don’t (care) if he wins the league MVP 12 times, I don’t think he’ll ever be a 1 as a quarterback. He’ll be a 1 as a football player, but not as a quarterback.”
Yes, the NFL is still recycling the same old takes about the dynamic quarterback that they had after his rookie season, when he had nearly as many rush attempts as pass attempts and everyone unfairly labeled him as a running back. In his second season, he only led the league in passing touchdowns, averaged a higher yards per attempt than Justin Herbert did in his second season, and completed over 66 percent of his passes.
Since his rookie year, Jackson has thrown for 8,766 yards, 78 passing touchdowns, and 28 interceptions in 42 games, some of which have been plagued by injuries (both to himself and the players around him). He has also rushed for 2,978 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns, but he has more than proven himself as a passer – and still has plenty of room to improve at only 25 years old.
Playoff success has been Jackson’s bugaboo so far in the league – he is 1-3 in four postseason games, with only three passing touchdowns and five interceptions – but he has made the postseason in all three of his fully-healthy seasons. But several “traditional” quarterbacks in the history of the NFL have struggled in the playoffs early in their career; Peyton Manning lost his first three playoff games, throwing just one touchdown.
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Jackson continues to be punished for his unique skill set, held to an unfair standard just because he offers more as a runner than arguably any quarterback in NFL history. If he wins the MVP 12 times, as the anonymous coordinator suggested, he will undoubtedly have done it on the strength of his arm.
The comments from The Athletic piece got the internet fired up:
As Jackson heads to training camp for his fifth season (amid a possibly tenuous contract situation), one hopes this will be the year that he finally changes some minds. But really, what more can he do?