By Chris Schisler
Lamar Jackson has been off his game for several weeks. It’s getting to the point where this rut has almost become the standard operating procedure for the MVP quarterback. So what’s wrong?
It leads to sacks and interceptions, bad passes. By holding on to the football too long, Jackson is ignoring his responsibility in pass protection and creating the need for improvisation in the first place.
This offensive line isn’t good. It shouldn’t be let off the hook entirely. At one point in this season, the offensive line was the main culprit behind the problems. Jackson is playing bad football right now and it’s become the biggest problem in Baltimore.
Lamar Jackson is having too many negative plays
Jackson’s biggest strength has always been his efficiency. He’s always been on top of things. In his MVP season pressure didn’t affect him the way it is this season. The 2021 version of Lamar Jackson is getting beat with blitzes. Teams figured out that blitzing the Ravens from out wide causes a lot of problems.
Quite simply, Jackson hasn’t responded or adapted. Against the Steelers, the times he could beat them with a quick strike specifically because of the blitz, he pats the ball and then bailed out of the pocket. Jackson isn’t hitting the open receivers. Hot routes are often ignored and check-down passes almost seem forbidden from Jackson’s point of view.
Jackson went 23-37 passing. He had an interception and was sacked seven times. The Browns picked off Jackson four times and sacked him twice. Against the Dolphins, Jackson was 26-43 and had an interception. Things have been going in a bad direction. It’s not a Ravens vs. Steelers problem. It’s a Lamar Jackson problem.
Lamar Jackson is in his head:
The Ravens came into this game with a clear plan and they knew what they wanted to accomplish. The proof of that is the opening march down the field. The Ravens had it put together until Jackson had what could only be described as a boneheaded interception. The best possesion of the game was a 99.5-yard touchdown drive. When the Ravens put it together it was good.
The Ravens dominated the Browns in just about every statistical category outside of turnovers. The Ravens controlled the game in Pittsburgh until they didn’t. It’s hard to blame anybody more than Jackson right now. For two games in a row, Jackson played more than bad enough to lose. The difference is that Pittsburgh didn’t let him get away with it.
It’s good that Jackson gets upset when things don’t go well. At a certain point patting your chest and taking the blame gets annoying. The only thing people like less than hearing sorry is hearing it constantly. Jackson needs to get out of his head. He needs to stop trying so hard and remember to have fun playing football.
He needs to know that the big play doesn’t always have to happen immediately. Checkdowns are like vegetables, you don’t like them but they’re healthy for you if used appropriately. Jackson needs to stop putting it all on himself and play with some rhythm.
The Baltimore Ravens offense has to be better, bottom line:
You can’t blame the defense. If your opponent only scores 20 points and you lose, it’s on the offense. The Steelers scored 20 points and 17 of them were in the fourth quarter. The Ravens spent a whole game forcing punts to have the dam break. We’ve seen the movie before. This is what happens when you possess the ball but don’t score. The offense didn’t hold its end of the bargain.
You can say that Mark Andrews should have caught the two-point conversion. Fine. You can say the Ravens shouldn’t have even gone for the two-point conversion. Fine. You can’t blame the defense for the offense leaving points on the board, and for so many drives to give the team so little.
The Baltimore Ravens will be in trouble until they start putting some points on the board. The loss of Marlon Humphrey for the season means that the dam is going to break sooner and more easily. The Ravens scored 10 points against the Lions. They scored 16 points against the bears. Baltimore had 16 points against the Browns and 19 in the loss to Pittsburgh. Points more specifically points left on the field are the problem.
Lamar Jackson is in a rut. He needs to play himself out of it. The MVP quarterback is in his head. He’s trying to force it as a pocket passer. He’s not taking what’s given to him, he wants to beat defenses down the field, with his arm. Until Jackson starts throwing the ball on schedule and playing reeled in football the offense is going to sputter. Believing in Jackson isn’t ignoring the fact that he’s playing poorly. The negative plays (sacks, interceptions, missed chances) are killing the team.