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Late for Work: Steve Young Says Lamar Jackson 'Has Chance to Be the Greatest That Ever Played'

QB Lamar Jackson
QB Lamar Jackson

Steve Young Says Lamar Jackson 'Has Chance to Be the Greatest That Ever Played'

Lamar Jackson often says "the sky's the limit" when talking about the potential of the Ravens offense. Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young feels the same way about Jackson.

Young said the Ravens' commitment to evolving their passing game under Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken gives Jackson an opportunity to be the greatest of all time.

"I thought that Lamar has tried to lead his game into a more sophisticated passing game, which is what he needs to be one of the best that's ever played, which I've said many times," Young told Kevin Clark on the "This Is Football" podcast. "So, I'm going to take [last year] as a transition season, which I thought was very successful. Obviously, the [AFC] championship game was a complete bummer, but it doesn't negate the advancement they've made as an organization to give Lamar Jackson the chance to be the greatest that ever played. He can't get there unless you allow him to be a sophisticated passer of the football."

When asked by Clark if he truly believes Jackson can be the best ever, Young said: "It's hyperbole, but I want people to understand, what I'm saying is, you're seeing a player that has the potential to be as great as anyone we've ever seen play. I really believe that. But he's missing a vital piece of that, and that's a sophisticated passer. I think there's been a sea change in Baltimore's philosophy — and this was the transition year, again — so I expect next year to be an explosive year."

For Jackson to take his game to the next level, Young said the Ravens "need more help at wide receiver [and] another tight end."

The help at wide receiver could already be here. The Ravens have high hopes for Zay Flowers building on his strong rookie year, a fully healthy Rashod Bateman making a leap, and rookie Devontez Walker providing a deep threat.

As for tight ends, the Ravens might have the best trio in the NFL in Mark Andrews, Isaiah Likely, and Charlie Kolar. The huge addition of four-time Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry also should help open up the passing game.

John Harbaugh Reveals What He Learned From AFC Championship Loss

As Young said, the Ravens' loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game was a bummer. More than four months later, Ravens players and coaches are still being asked about the game, specifically why Baltimore didn't run the ball more.

Head Coach John Harbaugh fielded the question on the latest episode of "The Adam Jones Podcast."

"Did we run the ball enough? Heck no. No way, especially against that defense at that time," Harbaugh said. "And the plan was to go in there and run the ball a lot more than we did. So yeah, we got behind, but that doesn't mean you stop running the ball, and I don't think the plan was to stop running the ball. It certainly wasn't. But we didn't have runs to get to in the system or game plan at that time that fit what they were doing. So that's on us. We weren't prepared to run the ball against what they were showing us. Our answers were to throw the ball in that particular plan, and we just didn't get it done. We turned the ball over, we didn't make the plays down the field we needed to make. If we hadn't turned the ball over, if we'd have made those plays, we would've won the game, the conversation wouldn't have been had.

"The big question is, going forward, how do we take the next step in this offense to make sure that we have the answers we need? In other words, when we want to run the ball, and they present us with certain things, how are we going to make sure we're able to do that? How do we build the offense in a way that has the answers that we need when the defense presents something no matter what game it is, when it is, what time of the year it is? And I think we've done a great job with that. I'm really excited about what we've put together offensively from a system standpoint going into Year 2."

Harbaugh said it means more responsibility for Jackson.

"I would say we've put it more in the quarterback's hands in terms of being able to get us to certain plays against certain looks, run and pass, when we want them in real time after we're at the line of scrimmage," Harbaugh said.

Tyler Linderbaum Makes Top Three in PFF's Center Rankings

The Ravens' offensive line is a work in progress, but there are certainly no questions at center. Tyler Linderbaum has been everything the Ravens expected when they selected him in the first round in 2022.

Pro Football Focus put the 24-year-old Linderbaum at No. 3 in its center rankings, only trailing the Chiefs' Creed Humphrey and Detroit Lions' Frank Ragnow.

"After taking like a duck to water in his rookie season, Linderbaum went one better and improved in his sophomore campaign," PFF’s Thomas Valentine wrote. "He improved his overall grade from 74.7 to 78.3, including a dramatic shift in his pass-blocking grade from 54.7 to 76.1. He also allowed just 15 pressures without a single sack in 2023.

"The sky is the limit for one of the best young emerging offensive line talents."

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