Todd Monken has only been calling plays for the Baltimore Ravens’ for two weeks, but quarterback Lamar Jackson already looks like Patrick Mahomes, according to legendary former NFL offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
The architect of the famous “Greatest Show on Turf” that helped the St. Louis Rams win a Super Bowl, Martz believes Jackson has gone up “another level as a passer,” and is making a transition similar to the one made by Kansas City Chiefs’ QB1 Mahomes.
Speaking to The 33rd Team after the Ravens beat AFC North rivals the Cincinnati Bengals 27-24 in Week 2, Martz explained why Jackson reminds him of Mahomes: “Now it’s like Mahomes. When Mahomes first came in ‘Oh, he can beat you with his legs,’ Well, when you play Mahomes, you’re not concerned about his legs as much as what a great passer he is. Now, I’m not saying Lamar’s a great passer, but he’s not remotely the passer he’s been in the past. He’s way better.”
Martz applauded the Ravens for letting Jackson show off his talent as a passer in an offense that requires him to run less. Long known for his mobility, No. 8 is now proving his worth as a signal-caller who can decipher and dissect coverage at an elite level.
The transformation is testament not only to how Monken has expanded the system inherited from predecessor Greg Roman. It’s also due to Jackson’s confidence, skills and improved supporting cast.
All of those things combined to burn the Bengals.
Ravens Aired It Out to Beat Bengals
Jackson still had his moments running the ball, but his legs didn’t beat the Bengals. Instead, the Ravens beat their hosts at their own aerial game.
That meant Jackson outgunning Cincy quarterback Joe Burrow. The latter completed 27 passes for 222 yards, while Jackson was good on 24 throws for 237 yards. Both threw for a pair of touchdowns, but Jackson didn’t toss an interception, while Burrow was picked by safety Geno Stone.
What stood out more than the stat line were the many ways Jackson gashed the Bengals through the air. Sometimes he lofted inch-perfect touch throws to the perimeter, like this touchdown strike to the impressive Nelson Agholor during the fourth quarter.
Flowers showed his value by reeling in this deep strike over the middle earlier in the third quarter.
Striking vertically hasn’t always been Jackson’s strength, but he’s averaging 7.4 yards per attempt this season. The only time in his pro career he’s averaged more was when Jackson tallied 7.8 yards per attempt during his NFL MVP campaign of 2019, per Pro Football Reference.
Monken has expanded the aerial concepts within the Ravens’ playbook, but he’s also kept a few things that are still helping Jackson shine.
New Ravens’ Offense Still Contains Some Old Favorites
Roman’s scheme was often derided for how run-heavy it was, something that played into Jackson’s dual-threat skills, but also slowed his development as a passer.
Monken has been wise enough to at least keep parts of the power-based ground attack Roman adored. It was obvious on this clutch run by Gus Edwards, highlighted by Run The Damn Ball.
Deploying six offensive linemen, along with fullback Patrick Ricard, while having a guard (70, Kevin Zeitler) pull to lead the way is classic Roman. Leaning into what’s worked well in the past helped the Ravens keep the Bengals guessing.
It also helped Baltimore achieve balance and dominate the clock, according to NFL.com’s Judy Batista: “New coordinator Todd Monken’s offense is predicated on the pass, but the Ravens were in control Sunday because they were balanced. They ran for 178 yards — Jackson had 54 of them — and that gave them six more minutes in time of possession and also allowed them to do something the Ravens usually rely on their defense to do: close out games.”
Batista also noted how “the Ravens reeled off six straight runs, including a 12-yarder by Jackson and a 1-yarder up the middle by Gus Edwards, both on third down, to run the clock out.”
The Ravens weren’t likely to lose their affinity for running the ball when Monken took over from Roman. Yet, Monken was hired primarily to improve Jackson as a passer and reduce his need to run.
It’s happening already, with Jackson averaging nine attempts per game, down from the 9.3 rushes he averaged last season. Significantly, Jackson’s only rushed once from 6 RPOs so far this season, according to Pro Football Reference.
That’s a clear indication Jackson’s thought process is changing to throw first, run second, the way Mahomes did, and no less an authority than Martz is already seeing the difference.