I loved watching Lamar Jackson in college. The year he won the Heisman at Louisville was one of the most dominant seasons I’ve seen from a college quarterback. 51 total touchdowns and over 5,000 total yards. He was magnificent.
However, I wasn’t sure how well his skills and style of play would translate to the NFL. After all, NFL football is very different than college, and we’ve seen quarterbacks tear it up at the college level and fall flat once they face NFL competition.
I’m not saying I expected Jackson to be a bust, but I wasn’t as surprised as some when he fell to 32nd in the 2018 draft. He was the biggest wild card of all the first-round quarterbacks that year. Now, he’s by far the best one.
When he took over for Joe Flacco in Baltimore last season, he played well, but he didn’t do anything special in my opinion. We all knew Jackson was a dynamic runner, and that’s where most of his highlight-reel plays came from. He didn’t prove that he could be an elite passer. He led the Ravens to a 6-1 record and the AFC North title in his seven games starting, but it wasn’t really about what he was doing. It was more the team clicking as a whole. He played fine, but he wasn’t putting up any staggering numbers.
Then in his lone playoff game against the Chargers, Jackson was held completely in check until the fourth quarter, when he led a comeback but then fumbled on the potential game-winning drive. I knew he had some serious talent but I wasn’t ready to jump on the bandwagon.
Then, he began his second season with a monster performance against the Dolphins, which gained him a lot of recognition. Once again, I was hesitant to buy into the hype because it was against the Dolphins. Then he went on a four-game stretch where he went 2-2, which easily could have been 1-3, with pretty mediocre numbers.
I actually went as far as to call the Ravens a pretender because I didn’t believe in Jackson’s ability to play well against good teams. Well, since then he has made me completely eat my words. In his last two games, he has outdueled the MVP frontrunner Russell Wilson in Seattle and completely dominated the Patriots defense.
Let me remind you that prior to that game, the Patriots defense hadn’t just been good, it had been historic, allowing under eight points per game through the first eight games. Jackson helped the Ravens put up 37 points by throwing for 163 yards and a touchdown while running for 61 yards and two more touchdowns. I had this game circled and said if Jackson could prove he could tear up an elite defense, I would officially buy into the hype.
Well, here I am. Jackson not only dominated the Patriots on Sunday night, he did so in different ways. He made some big throws on third and fourth down while also making some more of his signature runs. Jackson has truly established himself as a dual-threat quarterback, and in my opinion, he deserves to be in the discussion of the top five quarterbacks in the league right now.
Jackson is a ridiculous athlete who has proven he has what it takes to succeed at this level. He has the ability to change the makeup of the quarterback position in ways even Michael Vick couldn’t. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this incredibly talented young man.
I apologize for ever doubting you, Lamar. I was wrong.
Danny Barletta is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @dbars_12.