Lamar Jackson’s first two years in Baltimore have exceeded even the most optimistic expectations for the 2018 first-round pick.
In 2019, Jackson threw for a league-high 36 touchdowns, paired with 3,127 yards through the air on a 66.1 percent completion percentage. He also rushed for 1,206 yards, more than any quarterback in league history and added seven rushing touchdowns.
But if the Ravens and Jackson want to keep his progression on track and prevent 2019 from being a one-year wonder, there are a few lessons to be learned from Jackson’s current teammate in Robert Griffin III.
“This offseason me and Lamar trained together in our group, the stuff that nobody sees, the stuff that really no one cares about,” Griffin said in Week 17 of last season. “They just care about the product on Sunday, Monday or Saturday or Thursday. And we're competing against each other, and that part of it is fun for me.”
Griffin, of course, took the league by storm in his rookie season in 2012 and threw for 3,200 yards with 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He added 815 yards and seven scores on the ground as the Redskins’ offense took the league by storm. They won their last seven games on the backs of Griffin and running back Alfred Morris, as the league’s best rushing team stormed into the playoffs.
A knee injury and other surrounding factors, however, never led Griffin to the success he had in 2012. He went just 3-10 as a starter in 2013, but his touchdowns decreased to 16 and his interceptions more than doubled.
But perhaps one factor, was that the league, which had rarely seen the read-option in the NFL, caught up to Griffin and the Redskins.
There are more examples, too. Vince Young won 2006 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and was a two-time Pro Bowler. The 2006 draft choice of the Titans spent his last year in the NFL at age 28-years-old.
What makes Jackson unique, however, is just how meteoric his rise was to the top of the NFL. Not only did he do what few other quarterbacks in league history have ever done before, but he also did it with criticism that still follows him — even after his MVP award.
Jay Glazer says Taysom Hill is a “bigger Lamar Jackson.” pic.twitter.com/L7LdZJsZIq— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) May 20, 2020
With a strong structure in place in Baltimore in not only the front office, but the coaching staff, Jackson’s career should continue to progress. Seattle's Russell Wilson could provide a good example of what Jackson’s guide should be.
Wilson, on the back of one of the league’s best-ever defenses, won a Super Bowl in 2013 — his second year as a starter, the same as Patrick Mahomes.
Wilson’s career since the Super Bowl win has actually improved. He’s a six-time Pro Bowler and has thrown for 227 touchdowns compared to just 68 interceptions. As a starter, he’s 86-41-1 and has never posted a losing record.
Jackson’s legs give him a dynamic few quarterbacks have ever had, and there’s no reason or signs to believe that his career is headed for the category of, ‘What if?'
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