Lamar Jackson runs the football a lot and many think that it is not sustainable. Those concerns are real but slightly overblown.
Lamar Jackson runs the football a lot. This has naturally raised questions about how long Lamar Jackson will last in the NFL. While those concerns are valid, the non-stop focus on Jackson running and maybe not playing until he is 40 years old overlooks the fact that nearly every football player starts to decline once age catches up with them.
By now every NFL fan has heard the concerns over Lamar Jackson and how long he will play in the NFL. In fact, I think a lot of Ravens fans have the same concerns. Jackson is an amazing talent when running with the ball, but he takes a ton of carries and eventually he will start to be less effective at his position. And that is fine, because when you look at some of the older quarterbacks in the league, maybe some of them have been around for too long.
I did a little research to figure out which quarterbacks over the age of 35 have participated in a Super Bowl and there have been very few over the years to make it. Excluding the great Tom Brady, only Kurt Warner, Peyton Manning, and Rich Gannon have made it to the Super Bowl since 2000. Only Manning won it and that was mostly because of the great defense surrounding him. So should teams hold onto a good quarterback until the wheels fall off? Or is it better to start new at the position and develop a young talent?
Football teams replace older players in favor of younger players all the time, maybe the same should be true for the quarterback position. Eli Manning retired this year, but he had not won a playoff game in eight years. The Chargers finally let go of Philip Rivers after 16 years, but they had never won anything of note. Ben Roethlisberger is a hall of fame worthy quarterback, but since the last Super Bowl victory, which was in 2008, Ben is 5-6 in the postseason.
To top it all off, the Steelers are stuck with his giant cap hit and he is coming off of elbow surgery. The Steelers went 8-8 this past year with some of the worst quarterback play in the NFL, had they added and developed a quarterback a few years ago maybe they would have had a better record and the prospect of signing Bud Dupree would not seem so daunting.
I am not saying that moving on from these players is easy or would even be the correct move. I am sure the fan bases of those teams would be very upset if those three players were traded away, cut, or moved from the team before they were very obviously not the same guy.
The fact remains that all players decline after a certain age, mobile or not and that may be a player playing for 8-10 years at a high level and then moving on is better than holding onto a player for 15 years and watching them decline as young talent passes the team by.
The injury concern is real, but injuries happen in football all the time. The rules have been altered to help protect quarterbacks, however, this last year illustrated that sometimes players just get hurt. Nick Foles went down after what felt like the first play of the season, Drew Brees missed time, Ben Roethlisberger lasted a whole five quarters, and even Patrick Mahomes got banged up.
There is a 100% injury rate in the league, pocket passer or not, an injury will occur. So the approach that the Ravens are using is to allow Lamar Jackson to use all of his ability before age or injury catches him.
Lamar Jackson is a unique talent that needs to use all of his abilities while he has them. Trying to force him to sit in the pocket and throw while not allowing him to run is counter-intuitive, and it is not guaranteed that he won’t get hurt while in the pocket. So, in conclusion, just enjoy the Lamar Jackson experience while he is at his best. He might not juke out an entire defense at the age of 30, he may not be outrunning all-pro linebackers in eight years, and that is okay. While Lamar Jackson is in his prime, I want to see the best version of Jackson now and not worry about what it will look like in 10 years.