That has to be beyond repulsive for Ravens fans, especially considering this was supposed to be a year when Lamar Jackson improved as a passer following his MVP win last season. Jackson remains one of the game’s dynamic players, but he hasn’t progressed as a passer this season.
In fact, as a whole, the entire passing game has gone in the opposite direction. The Ravens lead the league in rushing, but they are 31st in passing. That’s not anything close to the type of balance teams crave.
It’s why they have lost three of the last four games to fall to 6-4, which would keep them out of the playoffs if they started today. The Ravens are down to 12th in my Power Rankings this week heading into a big game Thursday night with the Steelers.
After throwing 36 touchdown passes and six picks last season, Jackson has just 15 and six so far this season. He hasn’t passed for over 300 yards in a game this season and has six games under 200 yards passing.
That is not a formula for winning games in a pass-happy league. So what happened? Have teams figured out the run-heavy scheme, led by his dynamic legs? Maybe. They aren’t playing as much base defense against him as in the past, but Jackson simply isn’t throwing it as well.
I think he is capable of picking it up, but it’s time the Ravens let him throw more on first down. Jackson has 90 passes on first down. By comparison, Kyler Murray and Josh Allen, two other mobile quarterbacks who use their legs a lot, have significantly more first-down throws. Murray has 145 and Allen has 128. Now I know those teams have thrown it more, but the Ravens need to do so as well.
It’s time for the Ravens to let Jackson operate more like the Cardinals use Murray. Arizona is a run-heavy team as well, but they let Murray throw it more on first down, which is big for a quarterback’s confidence and success. Jackson is completing 71.1-percent of his passes on first down, so that’s a sign he could succeed more with first-down throws.
Leading the league in rushing is nice and all, but unless you can throw it consistently in the NFL these days it won’t matter. I say it all the time: You throw to score and you run to win. It’s time the Ravens let Jackson throw to score more on early downs. Then if he doesn’t succeed, they have a major problem. Until then, we have don’t know at all.
|They have a real chance to go undefeated for the season. If they beat the Ravens this week, they can basically lock up the division.||—||10-0-0|
|They made it interesting against the Raiders, but Patrick Mahomes was outstanding on the final drive. The defense has to be better.||—||9-1-0|
|OK, so maybe Sean Payton did know something we didn’t about Taysom Hill. Now let’s see him do it again on the road against a better defense. Then we can talk.||—||8-2-0|
|That was an impressive come-from-behind victory against the Packers. They dominated the second half.||8||7-3-0|
|The defense has to be better. They give up way too many yards on the ground.||1||7-3-0|
|They will be a tough team to beat with that defense playing the way it is this season. Jared Goff is coming off an impressive showing against the Bucs.||4||7-3-0|
|They seemed to find their defense against the Cardinals. The schedule is favorable the rest of the way, so they are the favorite to win the division.||4||7-3-0|
|They come off the bye with a little breathing room in the division with Miami losing. They have to be better on defense down the stretch.||—||7-3-0|
|That was an impressive comeback against the Ravens. Now they have a tough turnaround with another tough road test against the Colts.||6||7-3-0|
|Tom Brady is struggling with the deep ball, and this team has the look of a wild-card team at best. The offense has to pick it up.||5||7-4-0|
|They are 7-3 and the defense is getting better, which is a must for the stretch run. They can’t get complacent against the Jaguars this week, especially with Myles Garrett out again with Covid.||3||7-3-0|
|If the playoffs started today, they would be out. Now they face a tough turnaround with a road game against the Steelers on Thursday night. They don’t throw it well enough.||6||6-4-0|
|They can score points with Derek Carr playing well. But the defense still has major issues that have to be fixed.||6||6-4-0|
|The benching of Tua Tagovailoa made no sense to me. He’s either in or he’s out – and he should be in for the future. Let him learn from even bad experiences.||5||6-4-0|
|They come off their loss to the Seahawks with a long, tough trip to play the Patriots. The offense needs to get back on track after a subpar showing against Seattle.||2||6-4-0|
|Losing to the Cowboys at home is a damning blow to their playoff chances. The defense let them down in a big way.||—||4-6-0|
|They just don’t have the players to win consistently. The defense was awful against the Texans, and now they get to deal with Kyler Murray.||—||4-6-0|
|They snapped a five-game losing streak by beating the Lions with P.J. Walker at quarterback, which is a tribute to the coaching. They have a lot to like moving forward.||3||4-7-0|
|The defense came up big against Miami, which is a good sign. Now they get a chance to face Taysom Hill and his multi-dimensional quarterbacking style.||3||4-6-0|
|They had their best game of the year against the Patriots. That’s the offense we expected to see this season.||5||3-7-0|
|Justin Herbert had a big day against the Jets and finally won one of those big passing games. They have a star under center.||5||3-7-0|
|They had major offensive line issues against the Saints, which has been a problem for way too long. They are done.||4||3-7-0|
|They come off their bye with a big road game at Green Bay. Did they find any offense during the bye? If not, it’s going to be a tough final six games.||4||5-5-0|
|The end is coming for Matt Patricia. Injuries have hurt, but that was a terrible showing in losing to a backup quarterback against the Panthers.||4||4-6-0|
|They come off their bye in the division race with a winnable game on the road against a Joe Burrow-less Bengals team. The Giants were playing better before the bye.||2||3-7-0|
|This team can’t get anything going this season, even with guys back from injury. Carson Wentz simply isn’t getting it done.||2||3-6-1|
|They come off their bye needing to win five of six to likely have a playoff shot. It starts with a tough road game against the Rams.||1||4-6-0|
|That was a different offensive team with Andy Dalton against the Vikings. Now their game with Washington on Thanksgiving is a big one if you can believe that.||1||3-7-0|
|Their game with the Cowboys will put the winner in first place. Can you believe it? The defense will have to come up big.||1||3-7-0|
|It’s really bad they have lost Joe Burrow for the rest of the season. But now the other young players have to use the final six games to develop for next season.||3||2-7-1|
|Jake Luton played like a rookie against the Steelers, which means he can’t be the long-term answer. They will be drafting that guy.||—||1-9-0|
|They are at least showing some life in games. That’s progress. They have a chance against Miami this week to win one.||—||0-10-0|