How Lamar Jackson can show improvement against the Rams
Lamar Jackson is the future, that means progress is the name of the game for the Baltimore Ravens’ rookie. Here is how he could show improvement in his second taste of preseason action:
Lamar Jackson is coming off a tough performance where he was 4-10 and his touchdown was evened out by an inexcusable pick. The pressure on Joe Flacco has been the biggest story in training camp, however the heavy expectations for Jackson were front and center last Thursday night. Jackson didn’t look ready. He looked like a rookie, and not the kind of rookie that takes the job from the 10 year starter, but the kind that waits in the wings for a year or two.
Now that the expectations have been brought down to earth (at least a little bit) Jackson can just go out there and play football. He may be the next Mike Vick, but at the moment he’s simply number 8 for the purple and black. He may have an incredible amount of talent, but the talent isn’t the issue. Jackson can throw the deep ball, he can run and he can make you miss.
The talent is unquestioned, now he has to answer what there is questions about. Can he keep his eyes down field, or does he need an escape route? Can he go through his progression or does he need his first read to be open? Will he create plays with his feet, or will he scramble for the sake of scrambling? Will he stand in the pocket and deliver timely throws?
Jackson needs to be given an order not to run. The Ravens know he can run. Scrambling to avoid a nasty hit should be allowed, but if the Ravens tell him he’s not allowed to take off, he has to work with his eyes and his arm. Jackson stayed in his comfort zone on Thursday, and that’s not where progress happens. The first thing Jackson can do is work the pocket. He can roll out, he just can’t take off.
Secondly, Jackson needs to keep his eyes down field. It’s not that complicated. A quarterback is as good as his vision. Jackson missed Hayden Hurst on a big play down the field, because he didn’t see it. Jackson is taking plays away with his desire to make plays with his legs. He’s doing the exact opposite of what he is intending to do. Giving Jackson a directive to make plays with his arm, makes him evaluate what is happening down the field.
Finally, Jackson has to work on timing. His interception was on a late throw. What made Robert Griffin III look sharp the other night? He had a quick release of the football and he got rid of the ball on time. Jackson has to work at timing. If he doesn’t he is setting defensive backs up for interceptions.
In conclusion, Jackson needs to do more work in the pocket. He needs to keep his eyes downfield (without giving his target away) and he needs to get the ball out of his hands quick. Remember Ben Roethlisberger makes a living off of extending plays, but he gets in trouble when he does it too much. Roethlisberger is good because he can work the pocket, he sees everything and he gets the ball out on time. If the Ravens want to see Jackson be the next great quarterback in the AFC North, he has to work on those three things.