The touchdown pass thrown by Lamar Jackson on Monday night is part of what makes his potential intriguing.
On third-and-2 from the Indianapolis Colts’ 7-yard line, Jackson rolled to his right, escaped the rush, and made a pinpoint pass to Chris Moore for a touchdown.
This is what the Ravens’ rookie quarterback can do. He can make plays. However, the question remains in the aftermath of the Ravens’ 20-19 win over the Colts. How much will Jackson get a chance to make plays this season as a situational quarterback behind starting quarterback Joe Flacco?
Considering how solid Flacco has looked, you may not see a lot of Jackson this season. Flacco is clearly the Ravens’ starter.
However, the Ravens might use Jackson in certain situations because his ability to put pressure on opposing defenses, either with his arm or his legs, is a potential weapon the Ravens have at their disposal.
These preseason snaps are important for Jackson because they can accelerate his learning curve. Jackson’s numbers were not overly impressive against the Colts – 7-for-15 passing for 49 yards, including the touchdown pass to Moore. Jackson missed some throws early that he could have completed. His accuracy in the pocket needs to improve.
Afterward, Jackson was hard on himself, admitting the transition of entering games as a backup was an adjustment after starting in college.
“Incompletions,” said Jackson. “I came out cold. I started slow. A lot of balls I didn’t like, but I ended up throwing a touchdown. I don’t feel I’ve performed at a high level yet.”
Would it be risky to pull Flacco on certain plays this season and to insert Jackson? Yes. But putting Jackson on the field occasionally could also benefit the Ravens. Even if he is not ready to be a starting NFL quarterback, he is talented enough to be a situational weapon.
Jackson played almost two entire quarters Monday night, taking over for Flacco on the Ravens’ second possession of the second quarter before giving way to Robert Griffin III in the fourth quarter. The Ravens are clearly giving Jackson a long look, trying to determine how much he can help them as a rookie after drafting him in the first round.
Jackson has shown resiliency during practices and games. He has not allowed a mistake or an errant throw to shatter his confidence on the next play.
That is a good sign for a rookie. Jackson seems convinced he belongs, after winning the Heisman Trophy during his stellar college career at Louisville.
“That’s the great thing about Lamar; he’s confident, he keeps competing and he’s always going to believe he can make the play to turn the game,” said Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh. “He did a great job of doing that. Just keep working, keep getting better in all the little areas. There’s no question in my mind that he’s got a great future.”
With Flacco as their starter, the Ravens don’t have to rush Jackson into anything, whether they keep two quarterbacks, or keep Robert Griffin III as their third quarterback. Jackson remains a work in progress. But his potential to make plays remains interesting.
Check out the best shots from Monday night's nationally-televised preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.