Late for Work 9/2: Pundits Continue to Debate Lamar Jackson's Rushing Workload

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QB Lamar Jackson

Pundits Continue to Debate Lamar Jackson's Rushing Workload

Since he's come into the NFL, Lamar Jackson's rushing workload has been debated. That continues after Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said "we'll all have to wait and find out" how many designed rushing attempts Jackson will have this season. 

According to ESPN, Jackson's 135 designed runs last season were the most of any quarterback since the statistic was first tracked in 2006. He's also second on the list with 130 during his rookie season.

"It's a fair question," Penn Live's Aaron Kasinitz wrote. "After Jackson won the Associated Press' MVP award in a unanimous vote last season and spent another spring and summer polishing passer skills, might the Ravens want to limit his number of his designed rushing attempts in 2020?"

ESPN's Marcus Spears believes it should be less.

"Obviously you want to protect him," Spears said. "You don't want him in harm's way as much as possible, and you want him to throw from the pocket. Lamar is a good quarterback. We talk about the running aspect of the game and Roman obviously knows he has an elite skill set as far as getting out and making plays with his legs. But for the most part, as an OC and as a team, you want Lamar healthy. And possibly the healthiest is standing in the pocket and not creating those designed runs."

Statsdon't necessarily back up Spears' statement. A study done by Sports Info Solutions found that the risk of a quarterback getting injured on a designed run is only one for every 236 plays.  

"I believe the risk of a running QB being more prone to injury in comparison to a pocket passer is overstated by many analysts," Sports Info Solutions' John Verros told Sporting News. "One caveat would be that a running QB will attempt so many rushes per game that the sheer volume will still put him at an increased risk."

You can argue Jackson has less of a risk of injury on the run than in the pocket because he can see the hits coming. To this point in his career, he's done a good job at avoiding big hits.

Jackson set the single-season quarterback rushing record with 1,206 yards last season and his threat as a runner was huge to the Ravens' offensive success. ESPN's Mina Kimes thinks the amount of designed runs could vary based on the matchup.

"That's what made this offense so deadly last year," Kimes said. "You sold out the run, Lamar could pass. … I don't know how you look at this offense and that ranked first both in rushing and pass efficiency and think, 'Oh, this needs to change.'

"I do believe you can look at what happened in the playoffs and say, 'Maybe this passing attack isn't quite equipped to play from behind.' There are improvements that need to be made there, not just with Jackson by the way. But with the receiving core, that's a completely reasonable critique of the Ravens' offense. But otherwise, this is a great offense."

Young Linebackers, Not Jadeveon Clowney*,* Are Key to Beating Chiefs

If the Ravens are going to reach the Super Bowl this season, there's a good chance they're going to have to get through the reigning champs.

Stopping Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs is a tall task for any team, but the Ravens have loaded up on the defensive side of the ball. Reports that Baltimore could be the leader to sign free-agent edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney make things even more intriguing.

But Yahoo! Sports' Terez Paylor doesn't believe Clowney would make the difference for the Ravens. He told Glenn Clark Radio that he's focusing on the play of rookie linebackers Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison.  

"What will help more is [if] those young [ILBs] come along fast." Paylor said. "If [Queen] can prove to be a plus in coverage … the Ravens do have the matchups defensively to be able to [beat KC]."

Paylor backed up his point adding that one of Clowney's best traits is stopping the run. The Chiefs, who averaged only 98.1 rushing yards last season, aren't a team that is going to win pounding the rock.

That makes it even more important for the Ravens to have athletic inside linebackers. There's a chance Queen and Harrison could be starting Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns. Both have earned strong reviews throughout training camp.

"The investment of draft capital in Queen and Harrison, first- and third-round picks, respectively, showed the desire of a team seeking to resolve a key issue that derailed a promising season," The Baltimore Sun's Daniel Oyefusi wrote. "Queen projects as a smaller, new-age linebacker who has the speed to cover sideline to sideline, while Harrison is a larger player who also runs well.

"The trio of Queen, Harrison and [L.J.] Fort gives the Ravens reason to believe there will be a noticeable improvement from last season when early struggles with run fits and pass coverage played a role in shoddy defensive showings. With the evolution of NFL defenses and the rate at which they play in nickel and dime packages, it seems increasingly likely that responsibility will fall on Queen, the 28th overall pick."

Justin Tucker Finally Gets His Recognition

Justin Tucker was a glaring omission from the NFL Top 100 Players of 2020, but he's finally getting morerecognition.  

ESPN came out with its own rankings of the top 100 players, and Tucker made the list at No. 98. Jackson, Ronnie Stanley and Marlon Humphrey were also included.  

"With unprecedented accuracy and leg strength, Tucker is on the path to becoming the best kicker in NFL history," ESPN's Jamison Hensley wrote. "Over the past four seasons, he has missed only five field goal attempts when you exclude blocked kicks -- and only one (43 yards) has come from inside 50 yards. He has also recorded an NFL-record seven career games with multiple field goals over 50 yards."

Kickers aren't often viewed as impact players but Tucker belongs in that category. He's currently the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history (90.7 percent), and he's provided consistency for the Ravens at a position that often lacks it.  

"Who does Justin Tucker have to kick to get a vote around here?" NFL.com's Jeremy Bergman wrote in July. "The greatest kicker of his generation gets no respect from his peers, year in and year out, in this exercise. … Coming off his second straight first-team All-Pro season, and third in four years, Tucker should at least warrant some consideration from the board."

CBS Sports: Ravens Had Best Training Camp Performance

We're less than two weeks away from the start of the season and there's growing confidence in the Ravens to be one of the NFL's top teams. CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin ranked all 32 teams based on their training camp performance and Baltimore was first.

"Jackson only just recently threw his first interception of camp," Benjamin wrote. "Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown bulked up. … This team is locked and loaded."

In a shortened offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it's been important to have a strong training camp. Teams have been forced to adapt during unforeseen circumstances, but the Ravens have continuity on their side.

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec believes that continuity and a healthy team bodes well heading into the regular season.

"Injuries are felt in every training camp, and the Ravens weren't exempt," Zrebiec wrote. "However, they should enter the season with their front-line guys healthy and in good form. Jackson had a solid camp. Tight end Mark Andrews was probably the team's best player throughout. Ingram and Brown looked solid. Tackles Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. appear Week 1-ready. Defensively, Campbell, Williams, Matthew Judon, Marlon Humphrey and Chuck Clark stood out. Marcus Peters was slowed by a back injury, but there's limited concern about his readiness for the season. Throw in positive vibes from the good health of oft-injured cornerbacks Tavon Young and Jimmy Smith and the Ravens have to feel good about their core."

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