Media Agrees Jackson Won't Be Figured Out
In Monday's edition of LFW, we covered the topic of ESPN's Jeremy Fowler saying an "a lot of people around the league" believe team official believes this is the year Lamar Jackson is "figured out."
On Tuesday, Jackson was made available to media and was asked his reaction to such a scoffed at the claim.
"I mean, I'm going to keep playing football," Jackson said. "We're going to see, but I doubt it. I doubt it. I strongly doubt it. We're going to play ball."
Pundits noted that Jackson's stats dipped last year compared to his 2019 MVP season. He still threw for 2,757 yards and 26 touchdowns while completing 64.4 percent of his passes. Jackson still became the first quarterback in NFL history to run for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
"If that represented the opposition getting closer to solving the 24-year-old signal-caller, then coaches still have a long way to go before he's fully neutralized," Bleacher Report's Joseph Zucker wrote.
"Jackson wasn't quite as good in 2020 as he was in his MVP 2019 season, with his numbers down across the board both running and passing last season," Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith added. "But he was still one of the top quarterbacks in football, and he has every reason to be confident that NFL defenses will still struggle to stop the unique running/passing threat he provides."
"Jackson has every reason to believe defenses will have trouble stopping him in 2021," CBS Sports' Jeff Kerr wrote. "The Ravens quarterback has a long list of accomplishments in his first three years, one of the most impressive starts to a career in NFL history."
This is far from the first – or last – time Jackson will hear from the critics. Back then, the chatter didn't stop him from becoming a first-round quarterback or becoming the second-ever unanimously elected league MVP. It won't change him now, and it's clear from the iceberg of confidence he only exposed the tip of.
Jackson's NFL body of work speaks for itself, according to NFL.com's Grant Gordon.
"As great and as fast as Jackson is, figuring him out isn't always going to matter," Gordon wrote. "Jackson has been slowed and even stopped in individual games, but he's emerged for three seasons now with impressive bodies of work."
Jackson has his sights set on preparing for the regular season, and according to The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer, he's looking on schedule.
"Four days before his potential preseason debut, nearly three weeks before the Ravens' regular-season opener, Jackson was locked in," Shaffer wrote. "His passing was accurate. His timing was on. His mood was upbeat."
With Only Two Quarterbacks on the Roster, Will Jackson Play Saturday?
The Ravens waived quarterback Kenji Bahar to lower their roster to 80 players on Tuesday. This decision has media members such as Press Box's Bo Smolka believing Jackson will see his first game action in Saturday's preseason finale against the Washington Football Team.
"With Bahar released and McSorley still nursing a back injury, Jackson and Tyler Huntley will be the only quarterbacks in uniform when the Ravens visit Washington Aug. 28," Smolka wrote. "Jackson has not played in either of the first two preseason games. Head coach John Harbaugh has traditionally used the third preseason as the closest thing to a dress rehearsal for the regular season, with starters getting their most extensive action of the preseason."
Sports Illustrated's Todd Karpovich agrees with Smolka, writing that Jackson could "play a few snaps."
However, Baltimore Beatdown's Spencer Schultz isn't sure why the Bahar move means Jackson will see action.
Head Coach John Harbaugh might want to get Jackson some game reps before the start of the regular season. On the other hand, they might not see much value in putting Jackson out there without some of his top receivers if Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, Sammy Watkins, Rashod Bateman, Miles Boykin and James Proche II all still aren't ready to play.
Their opponent possesses a formidable defense with a young star edge rusher, Chase Young, as their headliner. Harbaugh could decide to keep Jackson out and instead see if Huntley can lead the Ravens to a record-breaking 20th-straight preseason victory.
Rashod Bateman Is on His Feet, But Which Wide Receivers Will Be Ready for Week 1?
Training camp and the preseason for the Ravens has amounted to considerable injuries at one particular position: wide receiver.
According to The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Schaffer, concern has shifted from Jackson's early absence of camp to now being focused on which pass-catchers will be playing Week 1 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
"It's no longer about whether Jackson will be ready for the Las Vegas Raiders on Sept. 13; he has practiced for two-plus weeks like he's been preparing since January," Shaffer wrote. "More pressing is the matter of which receivers will be ready to join Jackson at Allegiant Stadium."
Watkins missed his third straight practice Tuesday and Brown has been sidelined since the second day. Harbaugh told media that Bateman would be back sometime in September. From the looks of Bateman's Instagram, the rookie is hoping for Sept. 13 in Las Vegas, with him showing footage of his rehabilitation on Friday.
But fans may still want to temper expectations for the rookie being on the field in Vegas.
How Many Offensive Linemen Will Ravens Keep?
Of the recent roster projections released, one of the questions is how many offensive linemen the Ravens keep.
According to Smolka, the magic number is nine. He has it broken down as such:
OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Ronnie Stanley, Alejandro Villanueva, Kevin Zeitler, Bradley Bozeman, Ben Cleveland, Tyre Phillips, Ben Powers, Patrick Mekari, Trystan Colon
"Mekari is the Ravens' plug-anywhere utility man, and Colon is the natural backup at center to Bozeman," Smolka wrote. "But this group is perilously thin at tackle, a concern given that Stanley is coming off a season-ending injury and has yet to practice fully and Villanueva turns 33 in September. If there's a late addition to the roster, it could come at tackle, and then one of the interior linemen would have to go."
It looks as though Smolka is the middle ground, with Shaffer opting for eight linemen in his recent projection, and Filmstudy's Ken McKusick considering 10 in a recent podcast episode with Baltimore Beatdown's Vasilis Lericos.
"If the Ravens keep a sixth interior lineman — NFL roster rules encourage teams to activate eight offensive linemen on game day — Trystan Colon could get the nod," Shaffer wrote. "He has experience at center; played more as an undrafted rookie last year than Ben Bredeson, a 2020 fourth-round pick; and has held his own in camp."
"Yes, [Ealy] had the last 11 snaps of the game," Lericos said. "I think he's definitely a guy that probably has some practice squad future and maybe that's why he didn't see quite as many snaps.
"I really wonder if the Ravens try to keep Ealy as the 10th offensive lineman," McKusick said. "To keep a developmental prospect. Obviously not going to be active on gameday unless something happens, but do you keep a developmental player?"
- ESPN's Mike Clay believes of the 192 draft picks in a 12-person fantasy football draft, the Ravens account for seven worth taking: J.K. Dobbins, Jackson, Mark Andrews, Brown, Gus Edwards, Ravens defense, Justin Tucker.