The season didn’t end as expected for Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens, and the confetti shower many expected has been replaced with a shower of insults from those on the internet and elsewhere.
Jackson is being blamed for a second straight Ravens meltdown in the postseason, regardless of his stellar 2019 season on the field. In spite of that, though, not everyone is rushing to blame the team’s quarterback for being ousted from the playoffs again.
In the aftermath of the 28-12 defeat to the Tennessee Titans, former quarterback Danny Kanell explained that even though Jackson had one bad night, age is still on his side, as is the fact that he recently finished off an amazing season on the field.
As was also pointed out, other quarterbacks also started out with early holes in their playoff resume. The run of both those guys ended pretty good as well with a bunch of Lombardi Trophies.
Obviously, there is still ample time for Jackson to turn things around and make his playoff resume better down the line.
Analyst: Ravens Helped Lamar Jackson Lose
CBS Sports personality Damon Amendolara took things a step further, explaining specifically why people should get off the case of Jackson for his struggles. As he reminded, football remains a team game.
“His receivers dropped passes. His defense allowed nearly 200 yards on the ground to Derrick Henry. It was a team that with the Titans, kind of are on a magic carpet ride right now and the Ravens saving one of the worst performances of the season for that game,” Amendolara said.
As a result, Amendolara sees it foolish to think Jackson will never be able to win on the biggest of stages.
“Saying Lamar Jackson will never win in the playoffs is stupid. So stupid. We have no idea what he’s going to be,” he said. “And I’ll tell you this, if you gave a head coach like John Harbaugh a record like 14-2 every year and a first round bye or home field advantage, he’d take whatever quarterback is doing that every single day. Lamar Jackson was incredible this year. To take all that away because he had a bad day against the Titans is so short sighted. He had a bad day. The whole team had a really bad day.”
Jackson struggled against the Ravens himself, but the analysts are right. To brandish him as a failure for a pair of playoff exits early in his career is premature. That’s especially true considering the role Jackson has played thus far in Baltimore’s overall success.
There may be disappointment after plenty of Ravens frustration to finish 2019, but calling Jackson a failure forever doesn’t seem like a smart approach.
Lamar Jackson the NFL MVP Favorite
Regardless of the way the season ended, Jackson remains the shoo-in MVP lock. According to several in league circles behind the scenes, Jackson is the overwhelming favorite for league MVP, and it isn’t exactly close. In an annual piece picking out awards by Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, the writer spoke with several personalities and the votes were close to unanimous for Jackson to take home the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award.
Here’s a look at what Pelissero wrote about Jackson, who placed well ahead of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in the minds of those who were asked.
“It was a runaway win for Jackson, who received 19 votes to Seahawks QB Russell Wilson’s five. “He’s just been so unique,” an NFC executive said of Jackson, who has thrown for 2,889 yards and an NFL-high 33 touchdowns while running for a QB-record 1,103 yards in his second season. “The stats alone give him the award, but what he’s done for that team, the energy he’s brought to that city, the energy he’s brought to his whole locker room — they’re just playing on a different level. And no one’s really figured out how to stop him.” The Ravens are 12-2 and on a 10-game winning streak, moving into position for the AFC’s top seed. They overhauled their offense in the offseason under new coordinator Greg Roman to maximize the impact of Jackson’s rare running and playmaking ability. And Jackson has developed as a passer, too. “He puts so much goddamn pressure on you,” an AFC executive said.
Multiple execs who voted for Wilson (28 TDs, 109.3 passer rating) made their case in part on his longevity, since teams have eight years of tape to use in devising a plan against him. Many teams are still facing Jackson, and that scheme, for the first time. “I think Baltimore’s defense has put [Jackson] in a lot of [good] spots,” one GM said, noting that Don Martindale’s ascending unit takes pressure off Jackson and the offense. “If I had to go win a game right now, what quarterback would I take? I’d take Russell Wilson.”
Indeed, Jackson has been a human cheat code much of the season, so it only stands to reason that most feel he will be an easy MVP selection. He’s not only got the numbers but the silly highlight-reel plays which help make such awards a slam dunk in the court of public opinion.
Don’t expect this to change simply because Jackson lost in the playoffs. It’s nice to see many avoiding hot takes in a knee-jerk reaction culture.