Those concerns about Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson injuring himself when he hits the gas pedal in the open field are "overrated."
At least that's how new offensive coordinator and former assistant head coach & tight ends coach Greg Roman feels.
"It’s a little overrated, the whole danger thing," Roman said Tuesday. "Why? Because, and this is empirical data here, over the years you kind of realize that when a quarterback decides to run, he’s in control. So now [if] he wants to slide, he can slide. If he wants to dive, he can dive, get out of bounds -- all of those different things. He can get down, declare himself down. A lot of the time, the situations that [have] more danger are when he doesn’t see what’s coming -- my eyes are downfield, I’m standing stationary from the pocket, somebody is hitting me from the blindside."
Roman was promoted at the start of the offseason as the team begins shaping their offense around Jackson's run-heavy style of play. A style of play - that with the help of Roman - led the Ravens to the postseason for the first time in three seasons.
After Joe Flacco - a pocket-style quarterback - injured his hip after getting hit against the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 9, Jackson eventually earned the starting job, and over seven games finished the season with 147 rushing attempts for 695 yards and five rushing touchdowns. Those 147 rushing attempts set the record for most attempts by a quarterback in a single season since the 1970 merger.
His speed is undeniable. His lack of fear as well. But how long he'll be able to sustain that immortality has been a talking point since he took off running Week 11.
The Ravens have a prime example of what can go wrong in backup QB Robert Griffin III, whose rookie season with the Washington Redskins was headlined by what would be a career-altering knee injury. Jackson's coaches, however, find the reward greater than the risk.
"Every player is one play away from being hurt, and every quarterback standing in the pocket is one hit away from being hurt, too," head coach John Harbaugh said in January. "But the fact that he gets out and runs and scrambles ... I get it; I think it’s fair to consider that, but you can’t live your life in fear. I think there’s just as much fear on the other side that he’s going to take the thing to the house if he gets out and runs, too. So, we’ll live in that world as opposed to the other world."
Education was key last season and will continue to be going forward. During his press conference Tuesday, Roman mentioned that providing Jackson with the proper decision-making techniques is already in the works.
"My experience, and I kind of learned this, is that when the quarterback takes the ball and starts to run, there’s not a lot of danger involved in that relative to other situations," Roman added. "Now, how does he handle those situations, to your point? Yes, last year, for example, was a learning curve for him on how he would handle a situation. Do we really want to take those hits? Why would I cut back against the grain when I could take it out the front door into space? All of those things started last year."
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