Ray Lewis Wants to Play With Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson is playing at such a high level, he could lure one of the NFL's greats out of retirement.
In an appearance on SHOWTIME's "Inside the NFL," Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis said he'd put on the pads again to play with Jackson.
"I told [Ravens Owner] Steve [Bisciotti] the other night in the box, 'You know I still got two quarters in me. I can come play with [Lamar Jackson],'" Lewis said. "If you all are holding the ball for seven minutes on a drive, and then nine minutes on a drive, I'm like 'Man, I've never had that in my career.'"
"L.J., the next time I text you, you better text me back," Lewis added. " ... Your texts are flooded, but when the general calls, I need you to answer."
That's the draw Jackson has in just his second season. To hear those words from Lewis is the ultimate compliment. He played alongside two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks and has seen what it takes to win at the position.
The Ravens feature a top-ranked scoring offense and are averaging the second most time of possession per game this season, only behind the San Francisco 49ers (33:59). For a defender, that's an ideal scenario.
Lewis has been an avid supporter of Jackson from the start and recently told TMZ Sports that Jackson has the "it" factor.
"Talking to Bisciotti at the time … I was like, 'You don't know what you've got in Jackson, but I've watched that kid his entire career. He has the 'it' factor,'" Lewis said. "There's a number of athletes that come around in a generation that have an 'it' factor … There aren't too many people that you can say that about, [but] he's one of those people."
It's not just current and former players who gravitate towards Jackson. NFL.com’s Jeff Chadiha believes Jackson is paving the way for a new wave of signal-callers.
"The success the Ravens are enjoying with Jackson is yet another reminder of how rapidly the view of the quarterback position is changing," Chadiha wrote. "... Jackson is merely the most extreme example of what can happen when a team goes all-in on the idea of making life easier for a young quarterback … The NFL is filling up with more athletic quarterbacks, and coaches are becoming more creative in how they use them."
Greg Roman Earns Praise and More Head Coaching Chatter
NFL.com’s Marc Sessler named Greg Roman one of his candidates for Assistant Coach of the Year in October, and the Ravens Offensive Coordinator continues to receive praise for the work he's done with Lamar Jackson.
So much praise that some pundits are putting Roman's name in the ring as potential head coach candidate this offseason.
"I absolutely think Roman is going to be in the head coaching conversation," Press Box’s Glenn Clark said.
From unveiling the "Heisman Package," and new wrinkles to the Ravens' offense each week, it's not surprising to see Roman in the conversation given the success he's had. But Ebony Bird’s Chris Schisler believes the Ravens should do everything in their power to keep Roman around as the OC.
"The good news for the Ravens is that Roman is working wonders for the offense," Schisler wrote. "The bad news is that he is probably putting himself in the running for a head coaching job."
As Schisler pointed out, Roman's success with dual-threat quarterbacks will be especially enticing to teams as that mold of quarterback becomes more common at the NFL level.
"Roman may have been the best thing to happen to each of those quarterbacks' respective careers," Schisler wrote. "He's creative, experienced and he's done well with young mobile quarterbacks."
Schisler also acknowledged that there's no quarterback quite like Jackson, and the Ravens have a good thing going in Baltimore right now.
Still, Roman and Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale have received head coaching interest in the past, and Harbaugh has said he wouldn't stop one of his coordinators from seeking a promotion.
"We give them every opportunity to look at that, specifically a head coaching job," Harbaugh said in January. "That would be something we would encourage."
Ravens Rise to No. 1 in Power Rankings as NFL's Most 'Complete' Team
The Ravens are one of the NFL's hottest teams right now, and after the San Francisco 49ers' loss on Monday night, some pundits are touting them as the top team through 10 weeks.
After coming in as a consensus top-five team in the power rankings last week, the Ravens rose to No. 1 in two of the seven publications we look at (USA Today and CBS Sports).
"The Ravens have taken Jackson’s] skill set and adapted it to the NFL game, making him a weapon on the ground and through the air,” [Prisco wrote. "He has improved greatly as a pocket passer and as a result he has the Ravens surging on offense. Couple that with an improving defense – loaded with top corner play – and the Ravens are a legitimate Super Bowl contender."
Davis and Prisco have legitimate points. The Ravens took down the previously undefeated New England Patriots in convincing fashion and defeated the Seattle Seahawks on the road, who just beat the 49ers on Monday night.
"I think it's the fact that they're more complete," said Good Morning Football's Kay Adams, who had the Ravens No. 1 in her rankings. "If you look where the Ravens sit, they beat [the Patriots] and they beat [the Seahawks]. So if you're a team that beat two teams that I consider the best in the NFL, then you deserve props."
The remaining five publications still have the Ravens ranked behind the Patriots and 49ers, or both. NFL.com, Bleacher Report, and Sports Illustrated ranked Baltimore at No. 2, while Sporting News and ESPN have them one spot lower at No. 3.
"The Ravens are knocking on the door for the AFC's top seed, and it all starts with the 22-year-old under center," NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus wrote. "All the talk comparing the second-year star to Michael Vick has been selling Jackson short this entire time. Jackson is better than peak Vick ... and he's just getting started."
Pundits believe the Ravens are on the cusp of becoming the NFL's top team and didn't discredit a big win over the Bengals.
"Yes, it was against the Bengals, but that takes nothing away from Lamar Jackson’s second perfect passer rating of the season," Sports Illustrated wrote. "... His last showdown with Watson was fantastic, and their first NFL meeting should be more of the same."
Added ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio: "Yes, it was only the Bengals. But it also was a potential trap game, and this team is too good to have a letdown."
What will it take for pundits to consider the Ravens as a consensus No. 1 team? A win over Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans on Sunday could solidify that.
- The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec thinks it's time to stop referring to Nick Boyle as just a blocking tight end: "He's third on the team in receptions and receiving yards, and he's averaging just under 12 yards per catch. He catches pretty much everything in his direction, too, and he's already set a career-high in receiving yards."