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How Lamar Jackson Is Getting Comfortable in Ravens' New Offense

QB Lamar Jackson
QB Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson wants his first year in Todd Monken's offense to feel like second nature.

Jackson has worked hard this offseason to master his new responsibilities in an offensive system that gives him more leeway to make pre-snap adjustments. There will be many moments when Baltimore's offensive success depends greatly on Jackson's decision-making. He welcomes that challenge and has arrived at training camp with fresh energy and focus.

During solitary moments this offseason, Jackson has been like a student cramming for an exam, testing himself on his knowledge of plays and routes.

"I had to study and then just saying the plays out loud," Jackson said. "Saying them in my mind. Turn the page, say the play and then go back to see if I'm right on the play. Just learning the routes on the play, stuff like that." 

Holding the controller in Monken's offense, Jackson is determined to push the right buttons.

"Year six for me. I feel young still, even though I'm not old," Jackson said. "But yes, I feel more experienced.

"If we see it, make the audible. If we're right, if we're wrong, we're going to talk about it after the play. We're going to talk about it in the meeting room. But most likely, I feel like [because of] how he's coaching us, we're going to be right nine times out of 10. It's very exciting. I just can't wait to get out there in the regular season and show the world."

All NFL quarterbacks face the weekly challenge of attacking sophisticated defenses that use a variety of methods designed to stop them. Jackson has seen zero blitzes, loaded boxes, seven defensive backs and other strategies, but with each year, Jackson is gaining experience and more opportunities to anticipate what's coming.

Jackson believes that playing in Monken's system and being surrounded by a deeper group of weapons gives the Ravens an excellent chance to have one of the NFL's most explosive attacks. Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who works against Baltimore's offense every day in practice, clearly sees the potential.

"I think with Tee [Martin] being the new QBs coach, Monken coming in, the weapons we have, Lamar's going to be Lamar no matter what," Humphrey said. "The added style, him being able to be more flexible with what Lamar wants to do. You look at the top quarterbacks in the league, they get the call, they look at everything, and they kind of make their own decisions. When you give that green light to your quarterback, I think things just open up tremendously. Nobody can see it better than the guy that's looking at it all. I think this is a great situation for Lamar, and then [if] everybody just puts it all together, then it'll be great."

Jackson connected on several passes with two of his new playmakers during Wednesday's first day of training camp – Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Zay Flowers. Jackson already has a nickname for Flowers, Baltimore's first-round pick who made a stop-and-go juke move Wednesday on Roquan Smith that drew hoots from the fans. Jackson has renamed Flowers "Joystick."

"Let's get these guys the ball and let them do them," Jackson said. "We have the guys that will make stuff happen, get yards after the catch. The only thing that goes through my head is just getting them the ball and letting them do them."

Beckham used his superb body control to make a nice grab over Rock Ya-Sin, the kind of contested catch that Beckham has made throughout his career. Having a target with Beckham's catch radius who can win jump balls gives Jackson license to take more chances.

"During the offseason (Beckham) was like, 'If you throw it anywhere in my perimeter, it's not going to be an interception. I'm going to do my best to slap it down, make the tackle, whatever, break it up. But most likely, I'm going to make the catch,'" Jackson said. "And that's what I like to hear."

Jackson has been the focal point of every offense he has played on since his youth football days in South Florida. He's a special talent used to carrying heavy expectations.

With a new contract in place and lofty goals for the 2023 season, Jackson knows his performance in the new offense will be a major factor in determining the team's success. That's a challenge Jackson welcomes.

"Coach Monken being here, he's letting the guys just freelance and let them do them," Jackson said. "That's what it's about. Just letting them get the ball and letting them do them. We should see magic happen."

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