OWINGS MILLS, MD – With the defending AFC North champion Baltimore Ravens struggling at 6-2 following a tough 30-24 OT loss to longtime former division rival Tennessee, and a date with their archrivals in the 10-0 Pittsburgh Steelers, have we already seen the peak of 2019 NFL MVP in QB Lamar Jackson?
Jackson, who has looked less like the dominant playmaker from a year ago, as completed 60 percent of his passes (63.4), passed for 1,948 yards thrown 15 touchdowns and six interceptions. On the surface, some may say that that is good for a QB in his second year as a starter for a perennial Super Bowl team that has a bevy of playmakers in TE Mark Andrews, RB Mark Ingram and WR’s Hollywood Brown and newly-added Dez Bryant.
But if you look more closely, it appears that both the NFL has caught up to Jackson, and that the former Heisman Trophy winner out of Louisville, taken 32nd overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, has somewhat regressed. In five of the Ravens’ ten games, Jackson has completed below 60 percent of his passes, 53.6 vs. Kansas City, 51.4 vs. Cincinnati, 59.3 vs. Philadelphia, 46.4 vs. Pittsburgh and 58.6 vs. Tennessee.
Against playoff teams and contenders, Jackson is 2-5 with the only two wins coming over the Browns, 38-6 in Week 1 and at Indianapolis 24-10 in Week 8.
In NFL circles, 60 percent in considered the benchmark for accuracy and tracking how and where a QB is in terms of his development. Jackson’s accuracy issues and development as a pure passer can be attributing to many factors such as teams now having enough tape on him, opposing defensive coordinators taking his top target in Andrews away from him and making him play within the pocket, instead of allowing Jackson to get on the edge.
Before the Titans game, a report came out that opposing teams were able to call out the Ravens plays before Baltimore ran them. If that is the case, then both Jackson and Ravens offensive coordinator, Greg Roman may need to go back to the lab.
If and when Baltimore is able to line up at Heinz Field vs. the Steelers, hopefully for both the Ravens and Jackson, that they have some new tricks up their sleeve, or else the bag of tricks will be all but empty.