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Everything You Thought About Lamar Jackson As A Passer Is Probably Wrong

lamar pass

The biggest storyline surrounding Ravens training camp has been Lamar Jackson and Greg Roman’s revamped offense. The Ravens essentially put together a makeshift playbook on the fly in the middle of last season, and rode the playmaking ability of Lamar all the way to a division title. It was a playbook that relied heavily on the ground game, RPO’s, play-action, etc etc. It wasn’t a terribly deep playbook. There’s only so many hours in a day and even less hours that the CBA allows players to be on the practice field. But it was incredibly effective, at least until a good defense (the Chargers) was able to see it for the 2nd time in a 3-week span.

With that last part in mind, there’s no question that this makeshift playbook needed to be built out to be a bit more complete and a bit more balanced. There’s been a lot of good and honest discussion about the strain placed on a QB that runs 17 times a game, as Lamar did in his 7 starts. I think everyone can agree that that number needs to go down. Not much of a debate there, it’s just not sustainable for a long career in the National Football League. The debate at hand is essentially about just how much that number needs to decrease. Which obviously leads into a discussion about Lamar as a passer, and the point of this blog.

It’s absolutely MIND-BOTTLING how many people have written off Lamar Jackson as a passer this early in his career.

Seriously. The guy has started 7 games and one post-season game. That’s it. Maybe we’ve been spoiled in recent years with prodigies like Mahomes and Mayfield lighting it up from basically their first throw, but we have to remember those guys are exceptions and not the rule. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy get trashed as a passer so quickly and decisively by the national media and in the Twitter streets. With the way people have trashed him, you’d think his statline would be looking something along the lines of Nathan Peterman’s. He may not have lit the world on fire throwing the football, but he was also nowhere near as bad as you probably think. How about we take a quick look at the 5 rookie QB’s from the QB class of 2018 in their first 7 starts, ranked by passer rating:


rookie passers

Pretty solid actually, all things considered. Firmly 2nd out of 5 of the rookie QB’s, and actually closer to Mayfield’s top rating than Darnold’s 3rd.  He had a better completion pct than those bottom 3, a positive TD-INT ratio, the best adjusted yards per attempt of the group… there’s actually a lot to like in the numbers here. And sure, he may have thrown less than the other guys, but that’s kinda the point of Lamar Jackson. He doesn’t have to throw 45-50 times a game. He rarely ever will. All those other things he brings to the table is the entire allure of Lamar Jackson. So why Lamar is being trashed as a passer by so many people while the jury is still out for say, Sam Darnold (whose passer rating of 81.4 in his other 6 starts was a good improvement for him! But STILL less than Lamar’s 82.6) is beyond me.

But wait there’s more! This was a rather small sample size, and I don’t really think many people are buying into Josh Rosen either… why don’t we broaden our scope a bit and include some guys that we KNOW have what it takes to be an NFL QB? Here. Here’s are the 32 QB’s who had the most pass attempts in 2018, and how they fared in their first 7 career starts:


Ok so ranked by passer rating, this finds Lamar Jackson directly in the middle of the pack of these QB’s. And when we look at this, we should keep a few things in mind.

1.) Lamar is a very young QB in addition to his inexperience. He was the 5th youngest of this group when he made his first NFL start at the supple age of 21 years, 315 days old. He has more room for growth and development than most of these QB’s and should be given MORE benefit of the doubt during this process, not less.

2.) He also dealt with an extraordinarily poor collection of receivers and continues to do so considering ESPN just ranked the Ravens WR group as 32nd of 32 this week.

3.) As we evaluate this group, 7 of the QB’s had the benefit of having their first 7 starts in their 2nd year or later. 6 of those 7 had a better rating than Jackson. So removing those 7 from the group. Lamar Jackson actually had the 10th best passer rating of the 25 QB’s who had their first 7 starts in their rookie year. Pretty good.

You can’t look at that data and not at least be a little bit surprised at where Lamar stands relative to the perception that surrounds him. He’s probably right about where he should be for a 22 year old QB who’s made 7 starts in the NFL.

There are some strong names on that list behind Lamar. Matt Ryan has won an NFL MVP. Russell Wilson has won a Super Bowl and is widely regarded as a top 5 NFL QB. Andrew Luck was #1 overall and considered the best passing prospect since Elway. Joe Flacco won a Super Bowl MVP. Eli Manning won TWO. And Lamar Jackson threw the football better than those guys did early in the career, plus he adds all those rushing yards to boot.

Look, I’m not saying he’s a great passer. He definitely isn’t right now, and I’d probably bet against him ever matching the passing statistics of some of those guys I just mentioned. But he doesn’t need to either. He’s absolutely electric on the ground, and the simple fear of what he can do makes everybody else around him better. It’s just bananas to me the amount of people who have already written him off as a thrower when he’s hardly even gotten started.

The QB development process is exactly that. A process. And the statistics all show that the track that he’s on is not a bad one. Not bad at all.  Everything he says and everything he does leads me to believe that he has the makeup of a guy who will continue his ascent. He listens, he learns, he leads. All the things you want to see in a franchise QB. So give the guy a fucking chance people. Guy’s played half a season with half of a playbook. Now we get to see where this train is going. Can’t wait.