Lamar Jackson Absent on Steve Smith's List of Top Red-Zone Threats
Former Ravens wide receiver turned NFL analyst, Steve Smith Sr., has long supported Lamar Jackson, calling him a "diamond in the rough" and saying he is "something special."
But in Smith's ranking of top red zone threats entering the 2021 season, Jackson was not among the five quarterbacks featured on the list. The quarterbacks featured are Aaron Rodgers (1), Tom Brady (3), Patrick Mahomes (5), Josh Allen (6) and Russell Wilson (8).
Jackson is one of the greatest red-zone threats in the NFL, without question. He possesses both the ability to extend the play by maneuvering in and out of the pocket as he seeks out a receiver, or he can end the play himself with a burst of speed into the end zone. Jackson is arguably the fastest and most agile player on the field.
Last season in the red zone, Jackson threw 19 touchdown passes and zero interceptions, along with four rushing touchdowns. Over the course of his regular season career, Jackson has combined for 60 touchdowns (47 passing, 13 rushing) in the red zone, while also throwing zero interceptions.
Compare that over the same period with Rodgers, who's combined for 73 touchdowns (67 passing, four rushing) with three interceptions thrown. Jackson's not far off, and it's fair to assume he'd have closed the gap had he not missed more than half the 2018 season when sitting behind quarterback Joe Flacco.
Ravens Secondary Frustrates Panthers Coach Rhule
The Ravens defense tends to discourage their opponents; they've been one of the top defenses in the league the past few years. In joint practices with the Carolina Panthers, nothing changed in their modus operandi.
According to Darin Gantt of panthers.com, the receiving unit struggled mightily.
"But a persistent problem reared its head for the Panthers Wednesday morning, with a less-than-crisp passing game leading to head coach Matt Rhule not being pleased with his receiving corps," Gantt wrote. "They were without Robby Anderson, who sat out of practice with a mild hamstring issue, but Rhule wasn't thrilled with the number of dropped passes and bad routes — and brought it up the same way he did last Thursday against the Colts."
Rhule voiced his displeasure by calling out the wide receiver unit and their effort levels, according to Associated Press' Steve Reed.
"They're good, and you'd like to have Robby out here," Rhule said. "Some of these guys are tired, and I say that more as a jab. Little sun out here today, and all of a sudden we're tired, feel sorry for ourselves. I told some of our young guys, you don't get to like all the Instagram posts, and then come out here and not practice well. What you did last week doesn't matter. It's about what you did today."
It comes as no surprise that the Ravens' defense was disruptive, even with All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey sidelined due to injury. Their cornerback position hosts an abundance of talent at cornerback and Ravens Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale knows it. Earlier this week, Martindale said backup cornerback Anthony Averett has "All-Pro talent."
Depth is always critical, but this year has significant importance due to the lengthened 17-game schedule.
"It's very important," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I think depth is important everywhere. It's going to be … It's always a long season, [and] it's even longer this year. . . So, we're chasing depth all the time, and as you said, in the secondary, we have good depth."
DraftKings Lands Deal with Ravens, But Week 1 Betting Appears 'Impossible'
Back in November 2020, Marylanders voted "yes" on sports betting, granting new business opportunities for the city of Baltimore and millions of dollars for the state. Weeks away from the NFL regular season DraftKings and the Ravens have partnered together.
Unfortunately, for those hoping to place a bet on the Ravens, you'll likely have to wait long past Week 1 as Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told Maryland Matters that the rules have not been finalized. According to Maryland Matter's Bruce DePuyt, it could be months away.
Hogan apparently has "leaned on the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency to move as quickly as possible," DePuyt wrote.
"They said it's just impossible to get it done by the start of football season," Hogan said. "I pressed them pretty hard about making sure we get it done at least by the end of football season when all the betting takes place, really — in the playoffs and the Super Bowl."