Lamar Jackson – Unleash Or Preserve

Raphael Haynes
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Usually when a special talent comes along in the NFL, we tend to compare him to a past great or legend. When you say Lamar Jackson’s name, we might need to start the sentence with “Never before”.

Jackson has dazzled the NFL with his amazing plays each and every Sunday. Listed as a dual threat from the quarterback position, Jackson has exceeded expectations halfway through his sophomore season.

We’ve seen mobile quarterbacks grace our presence in the past such as Randall Cunningham, Michael Vick, Steve Young, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson. Never before have we’ve seen a quarterback with ability like Jackson who dominates the game by passing and running the ball.

Jackson has thrown for 2036 yards and 15 touchdowns (65.9% completion) while rushing for 702 yards and six touchdowns on the ground in eight games.

What’s unheard of is he averages 11 rushing attempts a game.

Is that too much? Should that be a concern for the Baltimore Ravens?

Coach John Harbaugh has to be stuck between a rock and a hard place knowing that Jackson is the future yet his running ability is so uncanny that he would almost be a fool not to continue the onslaught of his rushing attack.

Think about the promising future of Raven’s backup Robert Griffin III before his injury. Better known as “RGIII”, he took the league by storm his rookie year as a dual threat for the Washington Redskins.

Head coach Mike Shanahan was enamored with running RGIII in the read option. Although he avoided big hits early on in the season, they started to add up and eventually he ended up getting hurt and was out for a few years and has never been the same.

The dilemma is Jackson’s ability to run allows Harbaugh to dial up plays that keep the defense guessing. He runs designed plays for the young quarterback whether off tackle or a QB dive with the full back and the running back leading the way.

This also opens lanes for running back Mark Ingram as the linebackers can’t commit to a lane due to not knowing if Jackson will hand off the ball or run himself. In addition, the passing windows open up with the linebackers staying put because of the threat of Jackson running.

Once labeled as only a wide receiver at best coming out of college, the 6’2″ quarterback has grown into a better pocket passer. In saying that, others feel that using him to run that many times is taking away from him progressing as a quarterback.

So how does Harbaugh approach Jackson’s impeccable skill set? What’s more important, winning a championship now or prolonging his future? Continuing this unstoppable offense or adhering to building him into a pocket passer?

Is there a wrong or right answer is probably the harder question.

Regardless, Jackson is one quarterback we’ve never seen before and due to his ability, he not only causes headaches for defensive coaches but maybe for his head coach trying to decipher what’s best for his young quarterback’s future and the team.

Raphael Haynes

Atlanta, GA

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