Photo Courtesy: USA Today

Despite His Usage, Lamar Jackson is More Than a Gadget Player

November 08, 2018 - 3:17 pm

By Joe Schiller

Lamar Jackson has been used as a gadget player so far in his early NFL career but to no fault of his own.

The rookie quarterback has rushed for 139 yards and one touchdown but he’s seldom thrown the ball – completing 7-of-12 passes for 87 yards and one score. The majority of his production through the air came in garbage time at the end of a 36-21 blowout loss to the Carolina Panthers.

The Ravens have featured Jackson primarily in run-first packages and at times it’s worked, helping the offense convert crucial down-and-distance situations. On other hands, the predictability has hurt the rhythm of offensive drives.

General manager Ozzie Newsome and the rest of the organization made it clear back it in April that Jackson was drafted to be a quarterback. Joe Flacco has been the starter and to the team’s defense, it’s hard not to feature a dynamic talent in different ways while attempting to compete for a Super Bowl.

This had led to varying opinions surrounding Jackson’s potential. Is he primarily a package player or a legitimate starting NFL quarterback?

However you view the matter, it’s too early to tell.

Jackson’s best NFL tape as a quarterback comes in just a few preseason games – against second and third string defensive players – many who didn’t even make an active roster by the start of the regular season.

But let’s not forget what Jackson was able to do at Louisville. In a pro-style offense under head coach Bobby Petrino, Jackson showed more than just his ability to beat defenses with his legs. He threw for over 3,500 yards and 27 touchdowns in back-to-back seasons as the starter.

Add in another 1,500+ yards on the ground in each of those years and Jackson was easily the most dynamic player in college football during that span.

Yes, he needs to get more accurate. Yes, he needs to learn how to protect himself running down the field against bigger defenders, but Jackson is more than just a player that’s going to be featured on third-down read-option plays.

The Ravens view him as the franchise quarterback beyond Flacco and if No. 5 struggles into the latter portions of this season, Jackson could see his opportunity arise sooner rather than later.