The Ravens are working through a typical list of offseason concerns. Can they sign C.J. Mosley before free agency begins? Is Marshal Yanda coming back for another season? What are they going to do about Eric Weddle and Terrell Suggs? Can they upgrade their offensive line? Can they find a more permanent solution at wide receiver?
Then there’s the top item on the Ravens’ list as far as their prospects for 2019: Can Lamar Jackson can take a step forward as a passer?
The importance of his development in that area can’t be emphasized enough. The Ravens have gone all-in on building their offense around Jackson, who showed exceptional play-making ability as a runner in 2018 but has room to grow with his mechanics and consistency as a passer. Even though the 2019 offense likely will be more run-oriented than most in the NFL, Jackson has to be able to make plays in the air to keep defenses honest. The goal is balance.
Given how crucial Jackson’s development in that area is, it would be nice to know how his offseason is going. But we know nothing.
We’re privy to plenty of news, analysis and updates on contract negotiations, potential salary cap casualties, draft evaluations and free agency predictions – the meat of the NFL’s offseason news cycle. But a player’s private workouts? Sorry, there’s little to zero information outside of the occasional, random social media post.
A news blackout of sorts is in effect, and sometimes, even the teams themselves don’t know what’s going on. The Collective Bargaining Agreement limits their ability to contact players during the offseason.
The Ravens do seem to know a bit about what Jackson is or will be doing before the team’s official offseason program commences at the Under Armour Performance Center in April.
“There’s a plan in place, and Lamar is working, and I think it’s a really good plan. We feel great about it, and we’ll say ‘hi’ and whatnot, but that’s really the extent of it this time of year,” Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said last week.
Asked if he could elaborate because, well, inquiring minds want to know, Roman said, “He’s working and whatnot, but I’ll leave it at that for now.”
So there you go. It’s detail-free zone. Jackson apparently is or will be working with a passing whisperer of some kind, whose identity hasn’t been made public. Will he be practicing alone or in a group? We don’t know. Will he be in Florida, California or elsewhere? We don’t know.
The Ravens probably know, but even if they’re missing some details, you can be sure they aren’t concerned.
Well, they are concerned that Jackson does progress as a passer. The alternative would not be positive. But they aren’t concerned if he is putting forth the necessary effort. Jackson is like a good student on independent study. He’s going to do the work even when no one’s looking.
Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh has called him a “gym rat,” a basketball nickname for a player who never wants to leave the court. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. recently said of Jackson, “Nobody will outwork him.”
From the moment he arrived in Baltimore last spring, Jackson has exhibited a palpable drive to excel. He’s dead serious about his craft, always looking to improve.
It’s one of the main reasons the front office felt comfortable effectively handing the franchise over to him as its new starting quarterback. Jackson burns to succeed.
“He’s a young man that is young, but he loves to win, and I think he has a great perspective on the NFL and what it takes to be successful,” Roman said.
Somewhere out of view and earshot, Jackson is working out. In an era when every flex of a muscle is tabulated and analyzed, the Ravens won’t be able to monitor his sessions or chart his progress. They’ll just have to wait until they see him in April to get a handle on how things are going.
It’s their No. 1 concern, but strangely enough, also not a concern.