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John Harbaugh Excited to See Lamar Jackson's Continued Growth


Lamar Jackson met Head Coach John Harbaugh in his office on Wednesday. The circumstances were not what they anticipated.

The Ravens were out of the playoffs. It seemed too early to reflect and discuss what lies ahead for 2020. But with the Ravens eliminated in the divisional round, Harbaugh and Jackson are determined to press forward, both confident that the best days for Jackson are ahead.

"He was in my office for a good while," Harbaugh said. "I asked him basically, 'What do you need (to do) to get better?' We talked about a couple of different areas. Without getting into them specifically, he nailed them, the priority list, in the exact same order that (Offensive Coordinator) Greg (Roman) and I nailed the priority list.

"It's not a secret – the things that he needs to work on like any young quarterback. He's really smart about that. He's really self-critical. He has a great understanding of where he needs to improve."

Improvement was the story for Jackson in 2019 – remarkable, game-changing improvement that should result in Jackson winning the NFL's Most Valuable Player Award at age 23.

However, Jackson had three turnovers in the playoff loss to the Titans – two interceptions and a fumble. It's hard to win playoff games with three turnovers, and there were other plays Jackson would like to have back from that game.

Jackson and Harbaugh will spend more time together next week at the Pro Bowl, with Jackson joining 11 other Ravens who are playing for the AFC that will be coached by Harbaugh and his staff. It will give the Ravens a chance to decompress and relax after months of hard work.

"Lamar wants to go, he's fired up," Harbaugh said. "He told me he couldn't wait."

Jackson fully expected to lead Baltimore to the Super Bowl this season after the Ravens had an NFL-best 14-2 regular-season record. But does Jackson plan to retire? No. Do the Ravens have a young, talented nucleus? Yes.

Jackson has a 19-3 regular-season record, but he's 0-for-2 in the playoffs. Despite the records he's broken, awards he's won and wins he's piled up, that playoff tally will be a talking point until Jackson wins in the postseason.

Harbaugh pointed out that Jackson is younger than Joe Burrow, LSU's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, who just won the national championship. Harbaugh also mentioned a long list of great quarterbacks who were older than Jackson before starting their first playoff game – Joe Montana, Steve Young, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Troy Aikman and Aaron Rodgers. The Manning brothers, Peyton and Eli, combined to lose their first five playoff games.

"So [Lamar] has a pretty good head start right now," Harbaugh said. "He's along the way."

Jackson led the NFL with 36 touchdowns passes, and his completion percentage jumped from 58.2 percent as a rookie to 66.1 percent in 2019. Meanwhile, the work ethic that Jackson showed last offseason will continue, and there is continuity around Jackson that should help his development.

Jackson will have another year in Roman's offense. He will continue to work with Quarterbacks Coach James Urban, who will return after taking his name out of consideration for the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator position.

The Ravens can move forward knowing they have a unique franchise quarterback in place who is driven to get better.

"I'm really confident in Lamar and him understanding the things he needs to do to get better, and he's going to work really hard to keep building himself up as a player," Harbaugh said. "He has a great sense of urgency to be successful."

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