Twelve weeks into the 2022 season, the Baltimore Ravens haven’t yet fixed their lingering issues and nasty habits, but don’t put the blame on Lamar Jackson.
Some fans were quick to crucify Jackson after the Ravens’ loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12, believing Jackson simply didn’t do enough to rally his team to victory.
Given how Jackson’s success and Baltimore’s success usually go hand in hand, it’s easy to paint him as a scapegoat for the team’s recent woes; however, a quick dive into the stats reveals Jackson isn’t the problem.
In the fourth quarter of games this season, Jackson is 41-of-64 for 502 yards with two touchdowns against four interceptions, recording an average 72.5 passer rating.
Those numbers definitely aren’t worth bragging about, and critics will point out that Jackson did turn the tide of games earlier this season with his morale-sinking picks against the Bills and Giants.
In Week 12 against Jacksonville, though, the star quarterback finished with 343 scrimmage yards and actually improved his play in the fourth quarter, throwing a touchdown pass and successfully completing the two-point conversion.
Ravens’ Lamar Jackson is not the problem (everybody should agree)
CBS Sports’ Jeff Kerr shared the notion that Week 12’s loss wasn’t all on Jackson, claiming that it was an overreaction to believe Jackson was responsible for the team’s fourth-quarter collapse:
"“In Sunday’s loss to the Jaguars, Jackson completed 3 of his 5 passes for 86 yards with a touchdown and a 143.8 passer rating to go along with two carries for 14 yards. His performance Sunday wasn’t the reason the Ravens collapsed — that’s on the defense.”"
So far this season, the Ravens are misfiring due to a multitude of problems, the least of which is Lamar Jackson.
For one, the running back room has not come together as the team had hoped. After a few dominant outings from Kenyan Drake, Gus Edwards returned from injury in Week 12 but fumbled the ball in a game-changing fourth-quarter play that gave the Jaguars a short field.
Baltimore’s special teams unit didn’t impress, either, as kickoff returner Devin Duvernay got tackled on the Ravens’ 6-yard line following Jacksonville’s first touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The receiving corps continues to mourn the loss of Rashod Bateman and poses as arguably the team’s weakest link; the ever-consistent Mark Andrews had a shocking potential touchdown drop, as did Demarcus Robinson.
And as Kerr notes above, there’s that annoyingly unreliable Ravens’ defense that allowed 18 points in the fourth quarter. When the defense can’t get off the field, it’s unfair to hold Jackson responsible for the team’s late losses.
Marcus Peters looked a step behind trying to catch up to the Jaguars’ wideouts, and the defense as a whole gave up too many chunk plays on Jacksonville’s third-and-longs to keep the Jaguars in the game. Had the defense just made one or two crucial stops, the game would likely have been over.
Ultimately, this game had all the hallmarks of the Ravens’ fourth-quarter collapses at the beginning of the season: sloppy penalties, blown coverages, and that impending, inevitable gut feeling that somehow, somewhere, Baltimore was going to screw up.
Lamar Jackson was unable to capitalize on scoring drives in the first three quarters and also lost a fumble, yet pinning all the blame on him is much too simplistic and naïve, especially given his usually solid quarterback play late in games.
It’s a natural reflex to point fingers after a disappointing loss — just don’t point them at the wrong person.