ESPN's Jeremy Fowler Weighs in on Lamar Jackson Possibly Getting 'Figured Out'
The buzzworthy topic of conversation this week has been about ESPN reporter Jeremy Fowler saying "a lot of people around the league" are telling him "this might be the year that everybody figures out Lamar Jackson."
Fowler went more in-depth on the subject during an appearance on Glenn Clark Radio Tuesday.
"I think the questions that some teams have is if they get behind, can Lamar throw 40, 50 times and win games and bring them from behind with his arm," said Fowler, who surveyed more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players to rank the top 10 quarterbacks in the league. "That is a legitimate question, and I don't know the answer to that. Maybe he answers that this year, and I hope he does."
Jackson was ranked as the eighth-best quarterback in the league in the survey. That's a pretty high placement for a player who's being figured out.
"He's a heck of a player and without question a top-seven-to-10 quarterback in the NFL," Fowler said. "When you win an MVP in Year 2, the expectation is this guy's going to be one of the best. I just don't think most teams view him that way, fair or not. He doesn't get a lot of top-five votes when you talk to every team in the league. It's just the way it is, and that's OK. That doesn't mean you can't win a championship with him. He's a great player."
While it's true that Fowler was simply relaying what "a lot of people" were saying about Jackson, we can't let him completely off the hook.
Fowler said that whether Jackson can lead the Ravens to victory if he has to throw 40-50 times a game is a legitimate question, but it's actually not. Well, unless Jackson is being held to a different standard than every other quarterback, which often seems to be the case.
Using Pro Football Reference's Stathead tool, USA Today's Doug Farrar noted that in the 661 games from 1950-2021 in which quarterbacks threw 50-plus passes in a game, their winning percentage in those games is .215.
"So, what is it that we're trying to accomplish with this cherry-picked concept? Are we doing more than simply trying to find another reason to criticize Lamar Jackson for something else we wouldn't expect other quarterbacks to do?" Farrar wrote. "Because unless you're Tom Brady, who's managed to come out on the winning side of 19 different games in which he attempted 50 or more passes (an amazing 13.3% of all 'quarterback wins' in such circumstances), this particular ding is very much out of left field.
"Jackson has thrown more than 50 passes just once in his NFL career — Baltimore's playoff loss to the Titans at the end of their 2019 season. That's the only chance he's been given in the league's most run-dominant offense. So, Lamar Jackson isn't Tom Brady. Is that what we're bagging on him for at this point?"
Count Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd among Jackson's believers. He looked at quarterbacks 25 or younger and ranked them on a scale of 1-5 on his trust level in them; he gave Jackson a "5."
"Lamar Jackson, to me, is a five," Cowherd said. "He has won 80% of his games. He's also beaten good teams. Fifteen times he has played a winning team — he's 10-5. Yeah, I would love if he sat in the pocket and threw like [Patrick] Mahomes, but Mahomes can't run like him."
Robert Griffin III Predicts Ravens Make It to the Super Bowl This Season
ESPN analyst and former Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III also dismissed the notion that Jackson would be figured out this season.
Griffin went a step further and predicted this would be the year Jackson leads the Ravens to the Super Bowl.
"I think the Ravens take that final step. I think they take it all the way to the Super Bowl," Griffin said on "Get Up." "I know the guys in that locker room. I know how they work, how much it means to them. That defense is aging a little bit, so I think it's now or never for the Baltimore Ravens, and I think Lamar Jackson gets it done."
Griffin said teams won't figure out how to stop Jackson because "even he doesn't know what he's going to do next."
"He's such an instinctual player," Griffin said. "You can figure out the Ravens offense … but at the end of the day you have to stop him. He is the offense. Now you have weapons around him — Mark Andrews, Sammy Watkins, Rashod Bateman, Hollywood Brown, James Proche — and their offense becomes a really difficult thing to deal with."
As far as Griffin's suggestion that it's now or never for the Ravens to get to the Super Bowl, a strong case can be made that they'll be contenders beyond this season. While some players on defense are older, particularly on the defensive line, Baltimore has a nucleus of talented, young players, led by Jackson.
Pundit Says Odafe Oweh Has Been a Disappointment
Ravens coaches and players have been raving about first-round pick Odafe Oweh, but CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso has not been impressed with the rookie outside linebacker's performances in Baltimore's two preseason games.
In Trapasso's grades on first-round rookies heading into the final week of preseason games, he gave Oweh a C-minus and placed him in the "disappointment" category.
"Oweh has two pressures on 24 pass-rush snaps (8.3%). One was on a play in which he wasn't blocked. The other came when Jameis Winston held the ball for almost five seconds," Trapasso wrote. "And his 22 other reps have showcased issues that were apparent on film in college. Despite the freaky explosive pro day figures, Oweh has looked stiff around the corner, and outside of maybe one or two swipes, the pass-rush move arsenal is bare.
"As the No. 31 overall pick, expectations aren't necessarily sky high for Oweh, but after losing Matthew Judon in free agency, the Ravens need their first-round selection to produce as a rookie to maintain their elite-level of disruptive ways. Oweh has underwhelmed based on what Baltimore must get from him this season."
Even though Oweh doesn't have gaudy stats in preseason action, labeling him a disappointment is extreme. It's not just his coaches and teammates who have marveled at the athleticism the 6-foot-5, 251-pound Oweh has shown in practice; Oweh also has made a strong impression on media members who have observed him.
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote a few weeks ago that Oweh has "undoubtedly been the star of the second week of camp." Just yesterday, our Clifton Brown wrote that Oweh "flashed into the backfield on several pass rushes, forcing either [Tyler] Huntley or Jackson to get rid of the football a tad early."
In the preseason opener, Oweh had a Saints quarterback in his arms but he escaped.
"His impact has gone beyond the box score," Ravens Wire's Kevin Oestreicher wrote. "The Ravens are trying him out in a bunch of different roles, including seeing what he can do in live-game action when he drops back into coverage and even as a gunner on special teams. He hasn't dominated every rep he's taken, but he also has shown a few flashes of the tantalizing potential that he has, which makes labeling him as a disappointment a bit of a stretch."
- Brodie Waters, who runs IMAC Consulting and ESPN's Roster Management System, projects Jackson's next contract will be a six-year, $265 million deal with $156.4 million guaranteed: "That means roughly $1 million more per year than [Buffalo's Josh] Allen got, since Jackson can argue he has accomplished more as the 2019 MVP."