Lamar Jackson Has a Message for Defenses
This offseason has given Lamar Jackson time to get better, and it's also given opposing defenses time to game plan.
Still, that hasn't seemed to phase the reigning MVP's confidence.
When asked by Bleacher Report's Taylor Rooks how opposing defenses are going to contain him, Jackson responded with a simple two-word message.
While fans and pundits believe some teams have provided the blueprint to stopping Jackson, there's plenty of work being done on the Ravens' side to combat it.
Jackson's private quarterback coach Joshua Harris has seen the improvements.
"The great thing about Lamar is he's a hard worker, he's humble and he's taken constructive criticism," Harris told 105.7 the Fan, via Sports Illustrated. "He's coachable. He's listening to what I'm saying. He's practicing that and the good thing is he can see the results. So, now it's just him trying to perfect it.
"The biggest thing is 'let's keep improving, let's see what defenses try to throw at you in your offense, and now let's be ready to combat that and just continue to evolve our game.' Just become a better mental quarterback and understand what defenses are doing."
For Jackson, he's comfortable letting his play do the talking.
"We're gonna have to see when the season comes," Jackson told The Undefeated's Aaron Dodson. "There's no point in talking about it. I'll just go out and show it on the field."
How the Ravens Can Reach the 'Next Level'
Since he arrived in Baltimore, Jackson has made it clear his goal is to win a Super Bowl, but that ended prematurely with an upset loss to the Tennessee Titans last season.
NFL Network's "Good Morning Football" crew discussed what the Ravens need to do to reach the next level.
"I think the Ravens could yet again be the best team in the regular season," Peter Schrager said. "The question is, what happens come January on those fourth-and-1's?
"This was not a collapse of Jackson in that playoff game ... What do I think they need? What's the missing piece? They need to look at themselves in the mirror and say, 'we've got it all in this room. Let's go put it together in a big game and get that fourth down conversion.'"
The Ravens were the odds-on favorites to win the Super Bowl heading into the playoffs. They were double-digit favorites against the Titans, but couldn't replicate the same success from the regular season.
Jackson told Complex's "Load Management" Podcast the Ravens were "peeking ahead."
"That's what happened in the playoffs, and we end up losing to the team people had us favored over," Jackson said. "It's any given Sunday. You can't underestimate no team, no opponent and that's what we did."
Burleson believes health will be the biggest factor in the Ravens' success. Late season injuries to Mark Andrews and Mark Ingram took away two of the offense's biggest weapons.
"If they can remain healthy, they can battle with anybody," Burleson said. "But they have to have that healthy run in the postseason, and hopefully to a Super Bowl."
The biggest takeaway is that they all agree the Ravens have the talent in place to win a Super Bowl.
"I don't think it's a matter of pieces, they have enough pieces," Kyle Brandt said. "It's a matter of peace of mind. They have to win a playoff game."
Rookies Introduced to Ravens' Conditioning Test
The Ravens are known to have one of the toughest offseason conditioning tests, and every year new players attest to its difficulty.
Undrafted rookie quarterback Tyler Huntley was the latest to share his thoughts on Twitter.
Linebackers Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison made sure to chime in too.
While we don't know if it's changed, our own Ryan Mink detailed (and ran) the conditioning test back in 2012.
The test consisted of six heats. Players sprint to the 25-yard line and back three times in timed intervals. After a short rest, they repeat the process a total of six times.
"It's a demanding workout that has tested the aerobic capacity and speed of many players, large and small, over the years," the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson wrote.
Young Talent Helping Strengthen Receiving Corps
Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr picked every AFC team's biggest weakness heading into the season and is still skeptical about the Ravens' receiving corps.
"This is an offense that did not need a miles-deep receiving unit, so I'm being careful with the characterization here," Orr wrote. "... They were able to manipulate traditional 11-personnel looks to fit their league-best run scheme. However, the offense's biggest strength is its diversity, and bolstering the unit would only make the Ravens harder to defend."
The Ravens' struggles developing receivers has been well documented, but General Manager Eric DeCosta is investing in young talent at the position.
DeCosta has spent significant draft capital the past two seasons on receivers, adding Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay, and James Proche. The young receivers give Jackson and Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman multiple options in the passing game.
"Roman had Jackson run the offense very efficiently," Baltimore Beatdown's Adrian Charchalis wrote. "With the ground-and-pound running game being the centerpiece of the offense, great success ensued as many defenses weren't used to defending the run during the entire duration of the game. When Jackson threw, he threw in a calculated manner. That's where Andrews and Boyle were so crucial."
DeCosta said before the draft that he wants to build the offense to the point where they're "undefendable." Pundits believe the new additions can help take the Ravens over the top.
"Both Proche and Duvernay, as they gain further exposure to the life of an NFL wide receiver, can be essential pieces to the Ravens offense," Charchalis added.
- According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson relied on checkdowns on only 4.6 percent of his passes the last two seasons, one of the lowest rates among quarterbacks.