NFL

Lamar Jackson Moves Ravens Into 21st century

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In the 2001 NFL draft, Michael Vick was drafted with the first overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons, and it took the NFL by storm. No one had ever seen an athlete like Vick at the quarterback position in the NFL, with his combination of arm strength and breakaway speed; not to mention that he was the first African-American quarterback to be drafted number one. Vick set the stage for current NFL quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson. While many mobile quarterbacks have tried to emulate Vick over the years, there is only one player Vick says that is a “spitting image of me;” Lamar Jackson.

Jackson was one of the most electrifying quarterbacks in all of college football, as he was a two-time ACC Player of the Year and a Heisman trophy winner as a quarterback; but throughout the combine and pro days, many coaches and GM’s said he should switch to wide receiver because they believed he wouldn’t succeed in the NFL. The reason they made those assumptions is because they saw another Michael Vick; but let’s look at Vick’s college stats vs Jackson’s:

VICK

Passing Rushing
YEAR COMP ATT COMP% YDS TD INT RAT ATT YDS AVG TD
1998 Redshirt
1999 90 153 58.8 1,840 12 5 180.4 110 580 5.3 8
2000 97 179 54.2 1,439 9 7 127.4 113 636 5.6 9
Totals 187 332 56.3 3,279 21 12 153.1 223 1,216 5.5 17

JACKSON

NCAA collegiate career statistics
Louisville Cardinals
Season Passing Rushing
Comp Att Pct Yards TD Int Rate Att Yards Avg TD
2015 135 247 54.7 1,840 12 8 126.8 163 960 5.9 11
2016 230 409 56.2 3,543 30 9 148.8 260 1,571 6.0 21
2017 254 430 59.1 3,660 27 10 146.6 232 1,601 6.9 18
NCAA career totals 619 1,086 57.0 9,043 69 27 142.9 655 4,132 6.3 50
The knock on Vick, throughout his career, was that he ran the ball more than he threw it. Vick never threw for over 2,000 yards in his two years at Virginia Teach, but Jackson threw for 3500+ yards and 25+ TD’s in both of his last two years, not to mention 15+ rushing touchdowns to boot.
The days of the prototypical, 3-5 step drop-back, 6’6″ pocket quarterback are over, the defenses are faster now with players like Khalil Mack, J.J. Watt, Jadaveon Clowney and Von Miller just to name a few. Quarterbacks need to be able to escape the pocket and extend plays in today’s NFL. The only way to beat that type of speed is with your own speed. Lamar Jackson provides the Ravens with a quarterback that defenses will now have to game plan for, as his ability to explode in the open field will force teams to have to leave linebackers closer to the line instead of dropping back and covering the middle of the field. Additionally, keeping edge rushers from over pursuing to keep him in the pocket.
It is no secret that the Ravens needed a shot in the arm after last year’s abysmal offensive performance, along with the fact that Joe Flacco’s tenure is coming to an end, probably, by the end of the 2018 season. Committing to Lamar Jackson allows the Ravens build the team around him for the coming years without having to throw him to the wolves in year one.
Will John Harbaugh still be the head coach after 2018? No one knows for sure, but with the head coach not getting an extension this past season, it seems like the the Ravens are ready to move on from both Flacco and Harbaugh. The Ravens know they will have to change how they play offense to fit Lamar’s playing style, as it needs to have some read-options and allow Jackson to adjust on the fly.
If the 2017-18 playoffs told us anything, you need to be able to score points, and a lot of them, in order to compete in today’s NFL. With that, Lamar Jackson will finally put the Ravens back in the mix.
USA Today
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