Baltimore Ravens wide receiver James Proche had a clever comparison on Sunday to criticisms of his quarterback’s passing ability: “That’s like saying water is dry.”
Proche’s comments came on the heels of the Ravens’ 23-7 dismantling of the Denver Broncos, with quarterback Lamar Jackson throwing for 316 yards, the second-highest total of his career.
“I can’t believe people said he couldn’t throw. That’s crazy…like, barbaric,” said Proche, who had a breakout game himself in Week 4, recording career-highs of five catches and 74 yards against the Broncos.
Jackson is fully aware of his doubters, but he doesn’t let it distract him from the task at hand.
“There’s gonna always be noise. You have to block it out and play football,” he said on Sunday, October 3.
Despite his penchant for highlight runs, Jackson actually prefers to throw the football, telling media, “I’d rather pass for a TD than run it.”
Opposing defenses so far this season appear to feel the same way, consistently stacking the box to stop the Ravens’ potent rushing attack.
Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman has adjusted accordingly, allowing Jackson to show off his arm, especially in the last two weeks. Baltimore’s Week 3 matchup with the Detroit Lions yielded 287 passing yards for Jackson, which was the second-highest in his career until this week in Denver.
The former Louisville Cardinal has been especially impressive pushing the ball downfield, leading the NFL in both intended and completed air yards to date, per Next Gen Stats. He showed off his deep ball prowess once again on Sunday, uncorking a beauty that went over 60 yards in the air before landing in the arms of a diving Marquise Brown.
With 1,077 passing yards and 279 rushing yards in the Ravens’ first four games, Jackson is on a historic pace after a hot start comparable to only his 2019 MVP season.
Bateman, Boykin ‘Have a Chance’ to Play Against Colts
Jackson has averaged more than 250 passing yards per game this season with a depleted receiving corps.
Brown played through an injury against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2, and wideouts Rashod Bateman and Miles Boykin have yet to appear in a game this year. Both returned to practice last week, but neither could make enough progress to play in Denver.
But according to head coach John Harbaugh, Jackson could be throwing to Bateman and Boykin for the Ravens’ Week 5 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.
“I think both those guys have a chance to play this week. We’ll have to see how it plays out,” said Harbaugh today.
Bateman, the Ravens’ much-hyped 2021 first-round draft pick, appears to be excited to be on the receiving end of passes from Jackson, responding to Proche’s comments yesterday on Twitter.
While much of the focus will be on Bateman’s return, don’t overlook Boykin, either. The Notre Dame product is a powerful run blocker who was on the field for the second-most snaps of all Ravens’ receivers last season.
Jackson Off to Historic Start With First 1,000 Passes
In Week 2, Jackson reached a career milestone, throwing his 1,000th pass against the Chiefs, a 10-yard completion to tight end Mark Andrews.
Chuck Modiano of Deadspin analyzed Jackson’s first 1,000 passing attempts and found that he compares favorably to past and current NFL greats at the quarterback position.
Out of every quarterback’s first 1,000 passes, Jackson ranks fifth in passer rating, ahead of contemporaries like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.
He’s also thrown the fourth-most touchdown passes and the third-fewest interceptions, good for a 3.5 touchdown-to-interception ratio, third-best all-time. That’s more touchdowns and fewer interceptions than Drew Brees and Peyton Manning.
As Jackson himself would say, “not bad for a running back.”