Lamar Jackson 'Made Huge Strides,' 'Looks Like a Different QB', Says Beat Writer

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2019

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson throws a pass during NFL football training camp Saturday, July 27, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Gail Burton/Associated Press

Lamar Jackson is impressing at the Baltimore Ravens training camp this summer.

According to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, the second-year quarterback has "made huge strides since the start of camp. He looks like a different quarterback than he even did back at the mandatory minicamp in June. The Jaguars should provide a nice test this week, but the Ravens have to be content with the progress Jackson is making."

Jackson's teammates and coaches have been impressed as well:

Baltimore Ravens @Ravens

"@Lj_era8 has been dropping dimes." @Earl_Thomas https://t.co/raw1wBy5p5

Jamison Hensley @jamisonhensley

Ravens TE Nick Boyle has been impressed with the progress of Lamar Jackson in the passing game: "Lamar has done a really good job," Boyle said. "I think he's throwing tremendous balls out there, compared to what it was in the spring. You can see his improvement."

Jamison Hensley @jamisonhensley

Ravens OC Greg Roman on Lamar Jackson: "He’s right where we would hope he would be, and that’s in a good spot. Whether it’s walk-throughs, meetings, practice, you’re really seeing him take the reins of the offense. It’s exciting.”

There's a strong argument to be made that Jackson saved Baltimore's season last year. Before becoming the starter in November, the Ravens were 4-5 and fighting for their playoff lives. But once Jackson replaced Joe Flacco, the team went 6-1 down the stretch and earned a playoff berth.

A huge part of that resurgence was the team transforming into a smashmouth, run-first offense with Jackson at the helm. Jackson's dynamic running ability—he rushed for 695 yards and five touchdowns last season—aided that change in offensive philosophy.

But Jackson will need to improve as a passer going forward. He threw for 1,201 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions last season, though he completed just 58.2 percent of his passes.

His struggles in the passing game were on full display in the team's 23-17 loss in the wild-card round against the Los Angeles Chargers, when he was sacked seven times, threw an interception and fumbled three times, losing one of them. While Jackson nearly led the Ravens to a fourth-quarter comeback, his struggles were a major factor in the team falling behind in the first place. 

But while Jackson needs to improve as a passer, his teammates don't want him to lose his identity in the process.

"My thing with him is I don't want to get caught up in, 'You got to be a pocket passer, you got to be this,'" safety Earl Thomas said, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN. "No, Lamar, you be who you are. Be special. If you have to take off, take off. Make the defense work."