Although the Baltimore Ravens have regressed from their dominant 14-2 season last year, the reason for this cannot be blamed on Lamar Jackson. This regression is a result of several problems, none of which involve the reigning MVP.
Lamar Jackson Not to Blame for Baltimore Ravens’ Regression
Everyone who followed the NFL last season, even a little bit, knows all about his incredible 2019 campaign. Jackson took the league by storm in his first season as a starter, with insane stats that had never before been done in the history of the National Football League. He broke several all-time records, including Michael Vick‘s single-season quarterback rushing yards record. His incredible season ended with a playoff exit in the divisional round, but he won the Most Valuable Player award unanimously.
Jackson recorded the most rushing yards by a quarterback in NFL history (1,206). Not only that, but he also led the league with 36 passing touchdowns, and only threw six interceptions. Not to mention, Jackson had the single best quarterback rating in the NFL that season. His 2019 season was undoubtedly an incredible feat, but 2020 has been much different for him.
Although Jackson has definitely not played as well as he did in his unbelievable season last year, he has still played well and is certainly not to blame for the Ravens’ regression.
Ravens Did Not Support Lamar Jackson as They Should Have
Lamar Jackson is regarded by many as a “running back playing quarterback.” Although Lamar is definitely a better runner than he is a passer, it is evident when watching Lamar that he prefers to play as a pocket passer. His first choice is not to scramble, but he rather scrambles because he is forced to do so. His receivers cannot get separation, and his offensive line cannot hold pass rushers off. So with his receivers covered down the field, and the pass rush getting to him, he has no choice but to use his legs and run.
Granted, Lamar Jackson’s running is not an issue. He is a great runner, and his ability to run is what makes him Lamar. However, people complain that he runs too much, but that is not his fault. He would prefer to pass the ball like a pure pocket passer, but his receivers do not help with that at all.
Marquise Brown, the Ravens’ first-round pick from the 2019 Draft, has been average at best. Though he is talented, his small frame causes him to avoid contact and he struggles to get separation. Brown is no doubt a talented player, but he cannot be the number one receiver that the Ravens hoped he would be when they drafted him. The rest of the Ravens’ receiving corp is average at its best, with Willie Snead, who is a solid player and an excellent blocker, along with Miles Boykin and Devin Duvernay. Dez Bryant was also signed during the 2020 season. None of these players are good receivers by any stretch, aside from Snead who has proven to be somewhat reliable.
The only true good receiver the Ravens have is the tight end, Mark Andrews. He is an excellent player and is Lamar Jackson’s favorite target to throw to. However, every successful team needs good wide receivers, and the Ravens do not have that. The Ravens have frankly failed to give Lamar Jackson good weapons that he can rely on. Other teams with young future franchise quarterbacks have surrounded their guys with talent so they can succeed. Take for example the Buffalo Bills. They gave their quarterback, Josh Allen, a trustworthy receiver to throw to in Stefon Diggs. Another example is the Arizona Cardinals, who traded for a future Hall of Famer in his prime, DeAndre Hopkins.
Lamar Jackson does not have a single receiver who is anywhere near the tier of those guys, although he desperately needs one. The Ravens need to make a move for a big name, reliable receiver this off-season if they want Lamar Jackson to develop better as a passer, and if they want to win a Super Bowl anytime soon.