There were a few storylines that we heard entering the 2020 season. Obviously, COVID dominated the conversation as well as Tom Brady’s departure from New England. There was also a recuring storyline about the reigning MVP Lamar Jackson.
The question we saw all throughout the offseason: Is Lamar Jackson legit?
Winning an MVP didn’t solidify his status as one of the best quarterbacks in the league. People thought he wouldn’t be an issue once opposing defensive coordinators figured out how to defend his dual threat ability. This is proving to be true in 2020.
The NFL is a business where it doesn’t matter what you did yesterday. It matters what you did today. Lamar Jackson had an unbelievable season last year. He completed over 66% of his passes, throwing for 36 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions. He also rushed for just over 1,200 yards and found the endzone 7 times with his legs.
These are superior numbers for any quarterback in the NFL. When you factor in that Jackson was only 22 years old and in his first season as the #1 QB, these numbers were unreal.
Baltimore is off to a hot start in 2020. They only have one issue. They’re playing in the best division in the NFL. They’re 5-2, but sitting in 2nd place behind the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers. Cleveland is in 3rd and right on the Ravens heels at 5-3.
Lamar has thrown for 1,343 yards and rushed for 411 yards so far in 2020. His current QBR is 63.9 which is 19th in the league. That’s a few spots away from being ranked in the bottom third of the NFL. His 2020 numbers are nowhere near the necessary pace to reach his 2019 totals. Jackson has only thrown for over 200 yards three times in seven games this year.
I don’t want to be too hard on Jackson because his team is 5-2. There are other big names quarterbacks who can’t say the same thing about their team. Despite this, the numbers don’t lie. Jackson is in a sophomore slump as the starting quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens.
Tighten Up Lamar
John Harbaugh’s comments this week in his Friday press conference blew up social media. Opinions were mixed. Some people didn’t like him putting down the reigning MVP. Others thought this was the correct call.
I completely agree with John Harbaugh. He didn’t put down Jackson. He simply stated that he needs to get better because opposing defenses are learning how to defend his unique ability.
Jackson has been an average performer, but Harbaugh knows he’s capable of so much more and he’s trying to bring it out of him. That’s what good coaches do, and Harbaugh is one of the best in the NFL.
What Does This Mean?
Baltimore is taking a trip to Indianapolis for a Sunday afternoon matchup with the 5-2 Indianapolis Colts. The Colts have the 2nd ranked defense in the NFL so the spotlight will be on Lamar Jackson to see if he’ll have any success.
I think Lamar will answer the call on Sunday and step up big. He’s a competitor and I expect a comment like this to light a fire deep in Jackson’s belly.
Baltimore is a one-point favorite on Sunday. I think it’s smart to take them straight up and ATS. They’re undefeated in road contests dating back to the end of last season.
Baltimore’s team total for points is 23.5. I believe this one is a lock even against the Colts defense. Baltimore is averaging 29 PPG this season. Mark Ingram is questionable, and he’s still expected to play, but other than that the Ravens are healthy.
Sunday is a must win with the competition in the AFC North this year. This will be the week that Lamar Jackson makes a statement and gets back to his MVP ability that we saw throughout 2019.
Lock it up!