Lamar Jackson is the unquestioned leader of the Ravens
Lamar Jackson is the leader of the Baltimore Ravens:
I have spent 14 years watching Ravens football and I honestly can’t recall an instance where a quarterback has taken control of a game like Lamar Jackson did in yesterday’s 30-16 victory over the Seahawks. 11 of those 14 seasons, Joe Flacco was under center. You would get an occasional fist pump or screech of excitement, but for the most part Flacco never showed any emotion, good nor bad.
I think it’s fair to say that Flacco never achieved leader status. Instead, the leader of the team was always on the defensive side of the ball. The likes of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs held the title of leader, and rightly so. Baltimore was built by their defense and the ferocious prowess they’ve presented throughout the years. But all good things must come to an end and I can’t say that I’m upset about it.
In yesterday’s game at CenturyLink Field, arguably the toughest venue for opposing teams to play in, Lamar Jackson looked like a 15 year veteran, poised and controlled with over 69,000 fans in his ears and the worst of conditions. He didn’t look flustered and the game wasn’t to big for him. Jackson gave the Ravens one of their biggest regular season victories in recent memory.
It’s not only his play yesterday or even this season that has allowed him to evolve in to the alpha of this team. When Jackson was named the starter during last season something changed within the locker room, within the team. Players and coaches seemed to rally around Jackson. There was a new sense of swagger, of confidence that filled the air.
This victory is reminiscent of last season’s win in Los Angeles against the Chargers. Against one of the perennial title contenders, in hostile territory (or whatever you want to call that atmosphere), Jackson went in and took care of business, 22-10. While they would ultimately lose in the wild card round against the same Chargers team, Jackson proved that he had the ability to win, even in a tough road game.
Jackson solidified this claim yesterday. With the play clock running down, Jackson was vigorously screaming at center, Matt Skura to snap the ball. Unfortunately, Baltimore was hit with a delay of game and Jackson was colorfully livid. Jumping up and down, eventually spiking the ball while yelling at Skura. Many people will look at this as a sign of immaturity, but soon after the tantrum, Jackson gave Skura a brotherly tap on the head as to say it’s alright, forget about it.
This leadership doesn’t stop with Jackson’s fellow comrades on the field. The entire coaching staff of the Ravens view number 8 as the leader too. In what was the most pivotal moment of yesterday’s game, the ball was of course placed in the hands of Jackson. After a 13 yard gain on 3rd and 15, John Harbaugh sent his ever reliable field goal unite into the field. A field goal would’ve broken the 13-13 tie deep in the third quarter, but seven would do wonders for an offense that was stagnant in the red zone all day.
It was clear Jackson was frustrated by this lack of production. Heading off the field, Harbaugh could see the irritation on number eight’s face. In this tweet by the Baltimore Ravens, you can see the exchange between Harbaugh and Jackson:
It was at this moment that Lamar Jackson put every fan, coach, critic, and analysts on notice, that he is the leader of this franchise. 13 year veteran guard, Marshal Yanda was in agreement with Jackson giving his approval of attempting the 4th and two. It’s not often you see a Head Coach going again their initial gut decision, but Harbaugh did just that trusting that Jackson would get the job done. Indeed, Jackson took the snap, powered to the right, immediately cutting up inside the middle of the defense, and outrunning three others to score the game winning touchdown.
Showing this level of trust in Jackson is the ultimate sign of respect from Harbaugh. It showed that the confidence and belief in Jackson is higher than ever. Jackson has taken control of this team, bringing a jolt of excitement to the fans and his own teammates. A 22 year old, in his first season as the full-time starter, has captured lightning in a bottle thanks to his leadership and raw talent.
It’s no longer a question if Lamar Jackson can be a quarterback in the NFL. It’s now, just how far can he go as the franchise quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens?