Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young knows a thing or two about what it’s like to have his talent somewhat compromised by the offense and supporting cast around him. Selected No. 1 overall in the 1984 supplemental NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the BYU product struggled mightily for two seasons before being traded to the San Francisco 49ers in 1987, where he became a Super Bowl-winning quarterback and earned Pro Bowl honors seven times en route to Hall of Fame enshrinement in 2005.
Never mind that Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has already won NFL Most Valuable Player honors (2019), has twice been named a Pro Bowler, and leads one of the most consistently successful teams in the NFL. Earlier this week, Young appeared on ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown and put the Baltimore Ravens on blast over the way they have “held back” Lamar Jackson.
Steve Young: Ravens Need to ‘Invest’ in a ‘Sophisticated Passing Game’
“The Baltimore Ravens have doubled down again on being the most sophisticated running game in football. And they have been mowing through regular season opponents for a long time with this most sophisticated running game,” began Young.
“My position is they will never get to championship football without a sophisticated passing game. That’s not anything to do with Lamar Jackson. (He’s) a complete player that is not trained in being a sophisticated passer…. But until he gets the chance to show that he is a sophisticated passer of the football in a sophisticated passing game that is properly invested in,” the Ravens won’t get back to the Super Bowl, he said, before going on to provide Jackson with the highest of compliments.
“I can’t wait for someone to train Lamar Jackson in a sophisticated passing game,” Young added. “I think he’d be the greatest player in the history of the game. But he keeps getting held back by the Ravens year after year because they keep doubling down on this [rushing] thing Lamar Jackson is great at. No question, he’s the best at that. But that’s not the championship football that they need to play. That’s not what Lamar Jackson wants to be.”
Indeed, the 25-year-old Jackson already has 3,673 career rushing yards and is likely to move into the Top 5 among quarterback rushing leaders sometime this season as he chases down all-time leader Michael Vick, who finished his career with 6,109 rushing yards. And while Jackson boasts a 37-12 record as a starter (as per Pro Football Reference), Young believes the lack of investment in a “sophisticated” passing game and wide receiver talent is especially difficult to overcome in the postseason, where Jackson has a 1-3 record as a starter and has thrown just three touchdown passes against five interceptions.
Steve Young Wants ‘the Full Measure’ of Lamar Jackson
Moreover, Young believes that the approach that the Ravens have taken on offense potentially compromises Jackson’s earning power.
“‘Why isn’t he paid to be Patrick Mahomes?’ Because they haven’t given him a chance to be Patrick Mahomes,” added Young, referring to Kansas City’s Super Bowl winning All-Pro quarterback, who earns an average of $45 million per year. “So until they do, Lamar Jackson’s damned because of what the Ravens are doing, not because of Lamar Jackson.”
That’s especially relevant at the moment because Jackson is entering the final season of the rookie deal he signed in 2018. The former first-round pick is seeking a contract extension from the Ravens and has said the two parties need to come to an agreement prior to the start of the regular season or there will be no further negotiations until 2023.
“I want the full measure of who Lamar Jackson is, and the full measure is not being brought forward by the Ravens, and if that’s not the case then get out and find someone who will,” concluded Young, who was once described as the “best run-pass quarterback ever” and is responsible for one of the greatest QB scrambles in NFL history, a 49-yard game-winning touchdown run against the Vikings in 1988.
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