The Real Reason Lamar Jackson Might Not Be as Explosive in 2020

Lamar Jackson

Getty Lamar Jackson hit by the Bengals.

The Baltimore Ravens have one of the league’s best quarterbacks in Lamar Jackson, and no matter whether he decides to run the ball or throw it, he’s taken on the look of a dynamic player early in his young career.

Could the 2019 MVP be becoming less of a dual threat, though? According to one analyst, the answer is yes. Recently, ESPN’s Jamison Hensley made the claim that Jackson is running the ball less and as a result, could be becoming less of a dual threat player.

Hensley recently wrote:

“The NFL’s best dual threat has become a more one-dimensional quarterback. Jackson is averaging a career-low 8.2 rushing attempts per game after running the ball just twice in Sunday’s 27-3 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Last season, Jackson kept drives alive and defenses on their heels when he broke into the open field, unleashing spin moves and jukes for highlight-reel runs. But the designed runs have dipped this year, along with Jackson’s propensity to scramble from the pocket.”

So far this season, the Ravens offense has run hot and cold, where in 2019, it was almost exclusively hot. That fact has made it so the Ravens have not been comfortable enough in games to turn their best player loose and operate from well ahead. Games have been closer, so the team has been less free wheeling with their game plans.

There’s more to the story, however.

Lamar Jackson’s 2020 Stats

So far this season, Jackson’s stats haven’t jumped off the page even as the Ravens are 4-1 and looking like one of the best teams in the NFL. He’s thrown for 949 yards and 9 touchdowns with just 2 interceptions through Week 5. His rushing numbers are well down, with Jackson only running the ball for 238 yards and 1 score. He’s also been sacked 12 times already, meaning Jackson is likely to surpass his most sacks in a season for the first time in his career. Previously, the highest total was 23 in 2019.

All of this won’t mean much if the Ravens continue to win. Should the team be able to ride a solid defense which borders on elite and a good offense to big wins in the playoffs, nobody will be complaining. Smart money remains on the electric Jackson finding a few more ways to wow the fans and his team before the 2020 season is over.

Ravens Offensive Line Problems Hurting Lamar Jackson

If Jackson looks a bit more one dimensional this season as this piece hints, it could simply be a product of the team’s struggles on offense for much of the season. The team’s offensive line is struggling to clear lanes up front and protect and it has taken a definite toll on the offense as a whole, trickling right down to the quarterback. Jackson has had to stand back and scan the pocket and has been forced to run more as a product of his team’s struggles with protection rather than by design.

When the Ravens are humming along, Greg Roman is able to call more runs and mix up the game plan. This season, Baltimore has been forced to try to operate from a traditional plan and pass the ball a bit more. With that comes the frustration of watching some of Jackson’s designed runs go away.

There’s little question Jackson is still one of the most dynamic players in the league as he has shown, but the overall opportunities for that to happen have gone down. It doesn’t mean the Ravens can’t be just as successful of a team, but rather that the success has been a bit different looking this year.

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