ESPN is rolling out its annual poll of NFL coaches and executives in which they rank the top-10 players at each position, and in their recent list of the top 10 quarterbacks, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was left off the list and instead listed as an honorable mention.
While there is no universe in which Jackson should be left off such a list, I am not going to be writing an article explaining why the ranking is wrong.
To be honest, I don’t really care what a bunch of anonymous executives and coaches think. Generally, these lists just serve as an annual reminder that most of the people running teams in the NFL aren’t always the brightest.
In fact, as long as these are the same people who allow the Ravens to get a first-round pick for Marquise Brown and get the same value for a backup kicker that they had to give up for Calais Campbell and Marcus Peters, I am perfectly okay having to deal with a couple of days of outrage over a stupid list.
But while the ranking itself may not matter, the reasoning does, and the quotes given in the article show the discourse surrounding Lamar Jackson continues to be divorced from reality.
Just like any athlete, there are real areas of criticism for Jackson. He sometimes struggles with the touch he puts on deep balls, throwing them a little flatter than necessary.
A loss of trust in the offensive infrastructure around him last year caused him to start getting jittery and trying to play hero ball on every play, leading to a number of unnecessary sacks and turnovers.
His numbers took a meaningful dip last year, and while I would argue that is more a function of the personnel surrounding Jackson and the lackluster play calling of Greg Roman than Jackson’s play itself, it is undeniable that Jackson was at least partially responsible and that there are important questions that should be raised about the Ravens passing offense.
And yet, the critiques these executives give show that, in the minds of many, Lamar Jackson still exists as the caricature of the running quarterback who is a poor passer and a reckless decision-maker who will get hurt and fails to help his team in late-game situations.