Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, go light yourself on fire. Earlier today, my good friend Scott Baker, wrote a column that was titled “OFFICIAL: Lamar Jackson is Good at Football“. I would like to challenge him on his post with a counter post. See, that’s what we do at Vendetta. When two smart people disagree, the other person doesn’t run away like a coward. Instead, I would like to challenge Baker on his stance. Something we will be doing more frequently as Baker will now be a weekly guest on my podcast “That’s Some Cheese” which will be produced more frequently.
Anyway, back on track. What the post should have been titled is “OFFICIAL: Lamar Jackson is Momentarily Good at Football”. You see, now that would be the more accurate description. How many running quarterbacks do we need to see start off strong and then flame out of the league quick. Vince Young was an American winning machine with the Titans… then he flamed out. Colin Kaepernick went to the Super Bowl!… then he flamed out. Robert Griffin III won rookie of the year over Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck… and then flamed out. Lamar Jackson is on fire!… for now.
Lamar Jackson is playing his ass off. Don’t get me wrong. The spin move he pulled off last week was incredible. I’d also like to add some context to his stats that people are gauging their eyes over.
In two games against Miami and Cincinnati (A combined record of 2-16) Jackson is completing 14.8 yards per pass with a 8 TD- 0 INT ratio, and 158.3 Quarterback Rating. Jackson has been perfect against the two of the three worst teams in football. In Jackson’s 7 other starts on the season, Jackson is throwing for 6.8 yards per attempt with a 7 TD- 5 INT ratio, and 83.7 Quarterback Rating. Not so great. That’s with fooling teams. In those 7 starts, Jackson is completing 62 percent of his throws. That’s a great number for him but how long does it last? For a quarterback with accuracy concerns his entire career, are we going to bank on him to stay above that 60 percent threshold in the cold weather?
Jackson has improved by leaps and bounds from his rookie year. I’m not denying that. Let’s also take into consideration that John Harbaugh has done maybe the best coaching job in the last 10 years here. You have to give that entire organization credit. They were stuck at the bottom of the first round and 4 quarterbacks were already off the board. They essentially said “screw it, he can’t be any worse than Joe Flacco who doesn’t care anymore. We’re going to give this man every opportunity to succeed. We’re going to give him 3 tight ends that can run, block, and catch. We’re going to design a zone-read scheme with multiple looks where defenses have to play the option on every single play. We’re going to hire Greg Roman who was the play caller for Colin Kaepernick and got him to play way over his head. We’re going to run the ball and control time of possession. We’re going to draft a bunch of offensive linemen and trade down in the draft to collect them so we can control the line of scrimmage. We’re going to draft Marquise Brown in the first round to further stretch the field. Baltimore had a plan and we should recognize Jackson isn’t nearly this good on any other team. Baltimore had a plan and executed it perfectly. This doesn’t even happen on any other franchise.
Sustainability. That’s what it’s all about here. Lamar Jackson is maybe closer to Michael Vick than I thought. Still, Vick was able to go to Philadelphia and win games from the pocket fresh out of jail. That guy was a total outlier and should be treated as such. Is Lamar Jackson closer to that scale? Maybe he is. I will say this. Credit to whoever got Jackson in the weight room because you can tell he’s stronger than a year ago. His overall psychic has improved. I’d love nothing more than for him to be Michael Vick. At this point, Lamar has proven absolutely nothing.
With the exception of Cincinnati, the teams that have gotten a second crack at Lamar have beaten him. Get a second look at this offense, Jackson hasn’t been the same guy. Eventually, Greg Roman will run out of plays. He’s using a different playbook from Jackson’s rookie year so there will be another adjustment period. Eventually, Jackson will need to beat you from the pocket to win a title. The Browns got a 2nd look at Jackson and beat him. The Chiefs got a second look at Jackson and beat him. The Chargers got a 2nd look in the playoffs and humiliated him. How long is this sustainable? Call me crazy for not jumping on the bandwagon.
I’ve seen too many running quarterbacks flame out. Lamar is not Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson throwing the ball. Never will be. Can he win playoff games by throwing well enough? That’s the answer that hasn’t been answered yet. So far I have one piece of evidence that shows Jackson couldn’t pick up first downs against the Chargers when they were playing defensive backs at linebackers. Why teams haven’t replicated that is beyond me. Beating up on Cincinnati in Week 10? Exciting to watch, but proves nothing long term.