Todd Monken has yet to work with Lamar Jackson or talk to him, but he's already impressed by him.
During his first press conference as the Ravens' new offensive coordinator, Monken was effusive in his praise for Jackson and called him "underrated" as a passer.
"He has an elite skillset; it's obvious when you watch him on film, the things he can do with the football and the plays that he makes," Monken said. "I think he's underrated as a passer in terms of his ability to make plays and throw it down the field. So, you've all seen it. I'm like you; I'm no different than you. I watch what you guys watch, and it's pretty amazing."
Monken has a history of bringing out the best in quarterbacks both in college and the NFL. Under Monken in Tampa Bay, Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick set career highs in yards per attempt. During his one season with the Browns, Monken helped Baker Mayfield throw for a career-high 3,827 passing yards in 2019. At Georgia, Monken boosted walk-on Bennett into a Heisman finalist. Bennett's accuracy improved every season.
After studying film on Jackson, Monken sees a unique talent that he would love to work with. Jackson was a unanimous winner of the league's Most Valuable Player Award in 2019 and has a 45-16 career record as a starter. Yet, Monken elaborated on why he called Jackson underrated.
"I think it probably started off when he came out (of college)," Monken said. "I think that was already a narrative. I think sometimes there's a narrative that gets put out there and it just carries. It doesn't matter what it is.
"There are narratives in all of our lives – of what some person can become, who they are, where they were born, ethnicity; it doesn't matter. You put a narrative as to what they can be. I think that started from the get-go – of what he can and can't be – and I think in a lot of ways, he's proven that to be a falsehood, in terms of what he's capable of."
Jackson is the best running quarterback the NFL has ever seen, and Monken said that mobility fits with how offense is trending in the NFL.
"With quarterbacks you're seeking less and less big, pocket quarterbacks," Monken said. "I'm not saying that's going away. But would you rather have a 6-5 statue? Or would you rather have someone who's a little more athletic?
"There's more athletic quarterbacks. There's more spread. It's more fun if your guy's athletic, he can get you out of trouble. He can buy yards. He makes a guy miss, he can make you pay."
General Manager Eric DeCosta said last month that the Ravens strongly hope to sign Jackson to a long-term contract extension. While an agreement has yet to be reached agreement, Monken said Jackson's uncertain contract status did not temper his enthusiasm about joining Head Coach John Harbaugh's staff.
Monken said he hadn't spoken to Jackson or any player on the offense yet.
"I'm just trying to figure out where I'm headed when I drive to the facility," Monken said.
"I count on Eric and John, they're the best in the business. They're going to take care of anything that has to do with any player, not just Lamar. You have an interest of what the roster's going to look like. But, ultimately I want to be someplace where structure, organization, great on defense. Everybody I talked to said you want to be a Baltimore Raven, you want to be part of that organization."