Eisenberg: How the Ravens are Helping Lamar Jackson Thrive


To be crystal clear from the outset, I'm not suggesting anyone other than Lamar Jackson himself deserves the credit as he continues to light up opponents and astound the football word.

It's his talent, his instincts, his ability to see the field, his leadership, his determination to improve, his spin move, etc., that are allowing this show to unfold.

Jackson is a special player, a special person, and I'm sure the Ravens are counting their blessings as they watch him blossom into an MVP candidate in 2019. I mean, they envisioned him eventually becoming a star – that's why they drafted him – but a star this luminously bright? Dominating the football galaxy this quickly? I'm not sure anyone foresaw that.

Anyway, here we are, and I think it's worth noting that the Ravens also have done nice work in helping him ascend.

They've coached him up in many ways, a job that continues. They've rebuilt their offense to suit his unique skills. They've surrounded him with a bunch of playmakers who can catch and run.

Perhaps most importantly, and please take this the right way, they haven't screwed things up.

To the contrary, they've made pretty much all the rights moves in helping put Jackson in position to succeed.

Talent is always the greatest determinant, but where a young quarterback lands in the NFL can make a lot of difference, sometimes all the difference, in how his career unfolds. Some franchises are dysfunctional. Some coaching is less than stellar. Some locker rooms have issues. Trouble along any of those lines can keep a young quarterback from progressing.

Jackson was fortunate to land with a franchise known for being stable and successful, as opposed to one prone to chaos and change. From the time they kicked off in Baltimore in 1996, the Ravens only had one general manager until this year. They've only had three head coaches. They operate soundly, adhering to a top-down chain-of-command you don't always find in other places.

While they've inevitably experienced their share of defeat and disappointment, they've won two Super Bowls and made 11 playoff appearances since 2000.

Yes, Jackson arrived at a moment when significant upheaval was possible. Eric DeCosta was replacing Ozzie Newsome as GM and Head Coach John Harbaugh was entering the final year of his contract.

But the franchise's inherent stability prevailed. Owner Steve Bisciotti orchestrated a smooth GM transition, and after winning a division title in 2018, Harbaugh signed a contract extension through 2022. It meant the coach's vision for Jackson's development could continue, as opposed to having a new coach with new ideas step in, always a dice roll.

Stability meant James Urban, the Ravens' respected quarterback coach, could continue to mentor Jackson. Hired four months before Jackson was drafted, Urban originally was tasked with helping polish Joe Flacco's mechanics. Now he is the voice in Jackson's ear. CBS' cameras repeatedly caught them huddling between touchdowns Sunday.

Stability also meant Harbaugh could promote Greg Roman to offensive coordinator in 2019. Roman, like Urban, was already on the staff, having been hired in 2017 to revive the running game. It so happened he was also the ideal guy to craft an offense around a mobile quarterback, having already done so for two other teams.

Given unlimited license to maximize Jackson's talents, Roman has unveiled a potent attack that never ceases to surprise.

Bottom line, Jackson has landed in circumstances that would be hard to top. He is relentlessly schooled in the fundamentals, especially as they pertain to him – how to protect himself when he runs, how to take care of the ball, how to see the whole field, how to become a more accurate passer. It's a sound, thorough course load. Meanwhile, he is unencumbered by distractions playing for a franchise that trusts its process, yet is self-confident enough to go against the football grain with an offensive "revolution."

To reiterate, Jackson is the one making the magic, and he deserves all the credit, not just for being so talented, but for being so receptive to coaching and determined to win.

But as he soars into the stratosphere, the Ravens are doing their part in making it possible.

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