While it’s been clear through three preseason games that Lamar Jackson, to no one’s surprise in Baltimore, needs more time to develop as a pocket passer, there’s still the question of how to best use the rookie's unique talents this season.
Joe Flacco will be the main man taking snaps. He and Jackson could be on the field at the same time. There could be some gadget-like plays. But if the Ravens’ preseason games are any indication, Jackson could also be an option under center – particularly in the red zone.
In the Hall of Fame game against the Chicago Bears, Jackson used his quick release to find tight end Hayden Hurst for an 8-yard touchdown.
Against the Los Angeles Rams in the Ravens’ second preseason game, Jackson juked two defenders on his way to a 9-yard touchdown run.
In Indianapolis, Jackson rolled to his right, keeping Colts defenders’ eyes locked on him before firing a 7-yard pass to Chris Moore on the run.
It’s Jackson’s dynamic ability to throw or run, particularly while on the move, that will make him incredibly difficult to stop near the end zone.
Give him too much room and he can quickly find a seam to run. Don’t respect his ability to throw and he’ll zip it to a receiver.
“It’s hard enough to cover guys down there because things happen so fast, and windows are so small,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said after the Rams game.
“Then, when you have the running element, you maybe have to slow your pass rush down a little bit. You like to rush three down there, too, sometimes. You can’t do that as often with him.”
Asked whether Jackson is especially dangerous from inside the 10-yard line, Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said, “Lamar is dangerous anywhere on the field. He’s a unique and uncommon athlete.”
Mornhinweg expressed his concern over Jackson taking too many big hits on the run but included a caveat on when he has a green light.
“Between the numbers, we want to get down underneath the hits – unless you think you can score, and typically you’re one-on-one,” Mornhinweg said.