Lamar Jackson Responds to Latest Mark Andrews Snub

Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews

Getty Lamar Jackson has reacted to an All-Pro teammate being snubbed by Darren Waller.

Lamar Jackson probably did a double-take when he saw how Darren Waller ranked the five best tight ends in the NFL. The Las Vegas Raiders Pro Bowler recently compiled a list of the game’s elite players at his position.

To the surprise of nobody, Waller put himself atop the list. So far not much to see here. Nothing wrong with a healthy amount of confidence.

What got Jackson’s attention was where his Baltimore Ravens teammate landed on Waller’s list. The team’s franchise quarterback was more than a little amused and surprised by where his favorite target appeared.

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Mark Andrews Not Given His Due

Waller, who joined the Ravens as a sixth-round pick in 2015, but was waived three years later, gave his top five during an appearance on the All Things Covered Podcast. His thoughts were tweeted by the NFL’s official account and soon retweeted by a bemused Jackson:

It’s easy to see why Jackson would be shocked by Andrews placing, despite the quality of those listed ahead of him. Naturally, Jackson leapt to the defense of his go-to weapon because as Andrews goes, so does the face of the franchise.

The best example of how reliant quarterback and tight end are on each other was summed up by their 2019 season. Jackson was named NFL MVP, in no small part thanks to Andrews’ efforts, particularly in the red zone.

He caught a career-high 10 touchdown passes from 64 receptions. It was just the beginning of a prodigious rapport between Andrews and Jackson that’s only gotten better.

Andrews earned All-Pro honors and a Pro Bowl berth in 2021 after a prolific season that included 107 catches for 1,361 yards, both career-best totals.

Numbers like those make it hard to believe Waller could put so many tight ends, including himself, ahead of Andrews. The former didn’t really explain his reasoning when pressed by podcast co-host and ex-Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden:

Of course, all of the tight ends listed above Andrews boast impressive numbers, although Waller’s stats were down in 2021, following back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns the previous two years.

What Waller, Travis Kelce and George Kittle have is a better supporting cast than Andrews is surrounded with in Baltimore.


Andrews Working Solo

One of the reasons Waller saw fewer targets last season was the emergence of Hunter Renfrow. He led the Raiders with 103 grabs for 1,038 yards.

Renfrow and running back Josh Jacobs also took attention away from Waller. That’s a luxury Andrews is not afforded with the Ravens, but it’s one common for most of the other tight ends on this list.

Kelce benefitted from the focus on Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and the rest of the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense. It’s a similar story for Kittle, who is able to take advantage of defenses trying to stop Deebo Samuel and a potent San Francisco 49ers running game.

The only playmaker on Waller’s list who did as much with less was Atlanta Falcons’ rookie sensation Kyle Pitts. He broke franchise records and is an obvious star on the rise, but 2021’s fourth-overall pick also lacks the track record and consistency to realistically rank above Andrews at this stage of his career.

Like Pitts, Andrews didn’t have a standout wide receiver to occupy coverage last season, even though Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown caught 91 passes. Brown was traded to the Arizona Cardinals during the 2022 draft, so Andrews is going to be an even more isolated figure this term.

The Ravens haven’t reloaded at wideout, leaving second-year man Rashod Bateman and inexperienced trio Devin Duvernay, James Proche and Tylan Wallace as the main targets on the outside.

Instead, general manager Eric DeCosta’s attempts to ease the burden on Andrews involved drafting a pair of tight ends. Fourth-round picks Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely will need to be productive early if Andrews is going to see less bodies in coverage this season.

It will also help to have running backs Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins healthy again. The pair missed all of last season with knee injuries, but their returns will allow offensive coordinator Greg Roman to resume calling his preferred run-heavy scheme.

So will having Jackson at full strength after he missed the last four games with an ankle injury. To his credit, Andrews’ numbers didn’t suffer without his starting QB. He posted 100-plus-yard games against the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals, as part of tallying 32 receptions in the final four weeks.

Andrews’ ability to still flourish without less-than-elite talent around him gives the 26-year-old the strongest argument to be considered the outright best tight end in football, not just one of the pack.

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