Ravens’ John Harbaugh Pushes Back at Reporter Over Lamar Jackson Question

Ravens Lamar Jackson

Getty Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson evades a defender during Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh appeared to take exception to a question about the sustainability of quarterback Lamar Jackson after Sunday’s victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

Nestor Aparicio of WNST Radio asked Harbaugh, “Can he run too much, when you look down and see 20, 21 runs?”

“I don’t know. We won,” Harbaugh answered tersely, before Aparicio followed up by saying that such a heavy workload for Jackson would be “unsustainable” in the “long-term.”

At that point, Harbaugh got agitated, saying, “Whatever. No long-term sustainability observations.”

Jackson led the Ravens on Sunday with 120 rushing yards, picking up first downs on seven of his team-high 21 carries.

Harbaugh recognized the importance of Jackson’s ability to run to the Ravens’ victory, saying “Would you rather not run 21 times today and lose the game? It’s crazy to even suggest that. It’s not even a relevant question to be answered.”

Jackson’s 600 rushing yards this season are the sixth-most in the NFL despite having only the 19th-most carries. If he can maintain his league-leading 6.2 average yards per carry, this will be the third season in a row with more than 6.0 yards per rushing attempt. He led the league in the category in both 2019 and 2020.

Harbaugh refused to commit to lowering Jackson’s workload moving forward, telling media, “We don’t plan on running him any number of times. We plan on running as much, throwing as much, handing it off as much, blitzing as much, playing zone coverage as much as you think it takes to win the game, in the game.”

“Good question, Nestor, I appreciate that,” Harbaugh concluded, adding, “I thought it was a good answer too”

Jackson Responds to Same Question

Jackson himself was asked the same question by Aparicio earlier in the press conference, responding, “I have to focus on right now. We have to keep taking it one game at a time.”

“20 times a game, that’s not sustainable over the long haul,” added Aparicio.

“That’s just what it was today. Did I run 20 times against Cincinnati? No?” answered Jackson, who emphasized throughout his presser that his run-heavy game was a result of the Vikings’ defensive strategy.

“The defense just gave us that look,” said Jackson, who added that quarterbacks coach James Urban encouraged him to “take what the defense gives us.”

Sustainability Concerns Not New for Jackson

The idea that Jackson’s style of play is somewhat unsustainable has persisted since Jackson’s first entered the league.

He carried the ball 27 times in his first career start back in 2018, leading analysts to debate whether or not such a workload was sustainable. Some even went so far to guarantee that Jackson would soon suffer a major injury if he didn’t reduce his carries.

So far, Jackson has missed just two games since he took over as starting quarterback job for the Ravens. One was a 2019 Week 17 matchup against the Steelers with a first-round playoff bye (and his first MVP trophy) already secured, and the other was a result of last year’s COVID outbreak in Baltimore.

While the Ravens would likely prefer that Jackson not need to shoulder such a heavy burden in order to win games, they certainly won’t stop him from putting the team on his back like he has so many times already this season.