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Late for Work: ESPN Pundit Says He Isn't Sold on Lamar Jackson Winning in the Playoffs

QB Lamar Jackson
QB Lamar Jackson

ESPN Pundit Says He Isn't Sold on Lamar Jackson Winning in the Playoffs

Lamar Jackson could be on the verge of winning his second league MVP award, but he knows he will ultimately be judged by what he does in the postseason.

Talking heads such as ESPN’s Chris “Mad Dog” Russo undoubtedly can be counted on to remind him of his 1-3 record in the playoffs.

"Until Lamar does it in the postseason, can we put the brakes on just a bit?" Russo said on ESPN's "First Take." "He's going to win the MVP. [He] deserves it. And I'll give him a little break as far as a couple of those games in postseason play. He's 1-3 in the postseason. His quarterback rating is not great in the postseason.

"He's walking into a big situation. All the pressure in the world is on him. Can I see him win a couple of games in the postseason before I can possibly say that I have no qualms whatsoever when he's never done it before?"

Russo's colleague, Marcus Spears, gave an emphatic reply.

"No! No! You don't need to see them," Spears said. "Because the team around Lamar Jackson is better than they were when you're talking about this damn 1-3 record in the playoffs. He has the best defense in the league. He has way better weapons than he's had in those playoff runs."

Spears also noted that Jackson, who is now in his sixth season, is a more complete quarterback and is thriving in a new offense under first-year coordinator Todd Monken.

"Lamar Jackson and this Baltimore Ravens team is the best team in the league, and the reason why I don't have questions about Lamar Jackson is because Lamar Jackson now is playing in a very similar offense to the one that won him the Heisman Trophy when he was at Louisville," Spears said. "This is familiar to Lamar Jackson. He's got on the same page with Zay Flowers. He's doing this without Mark Andrews. They just beat the hell out of the San Francisco 49ers without Mark Andrews."

John Harbaugh Got It Right on Fourth-Down Decisions Against 49ers

Head Coach John Harbaugh has been criticized in the past for being aggressive on fourth down, but this season he has been scrutinized for not being aggressive enough. Such is life as an NFL head coach.

During Monday night's win over the San Francisco 49ers, the Ravens were in fourth-and-short on two notable occasions, and Harbaugh made two different calls. The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec said both were the correct ones.

"On fourth-and-goal from the one in the second quarter, Harbaugh kept his offense on the field and Gus Edwards rewarded him with a touchdown run. On fourth-and-goal from the one in the third quarter, Harbaugh had the Ravens take a delay of game and he sent Justin Tucker out for a 24-yard field goal," Zrebiec wrote. "Both decisions worked, but it would have been hard to criticize them even if they hadn't.

"In the second quarter, the Ravens had to know they weren't going to beat the 49ers by kicking field goals all night. They had mounted a 10-play drive and it made sense for Harbaugh to allow the offense to finish it off. As for the second one, the field goal gave the Ravens a three-touchdown lead late in the third quarter. With the way the defense was playing, it was the right call to force San Francisco to score three touchdowns in little more than a quarter to tie the game."

Ronnie Stanley Is 'Very Much Still a Starting-Caliber Tackle'

It's been a challenging season for left tackle Ronnie Stanley as he's battled through a right knee injury, but the former All-Pro proved in the 49ers game that he can still hold his own against top-level competition.

"A lot has been made about Ronnie Stanley and his perceived struggles in 2023," Pro Football Focus’ Gordon McGuinness wrote. "Once one of the best pass blockers in the NFL, Stanley hasn't been able to get back to that form since a devastating injury during the 2020 season. However, he is not suddenly a severe liability.

"Among the 40 NFL players to record 300 or more snaps at left tackle this season, Stanley ranks No. 24 with a 63.9 PFF grade. He ranks No. 21 with a 72.3 PFF pass-blocking grade and No. 18 with a 61.9 PFF run-blocking grade. While he is not the same player as before the injury, he is very much still a starting-caliber tackle in the NFL."

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