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Stephen A. Smith and ESPN poll leave Lamar Jackson out of top four quarterbacks

Stephen A. Smith and ESPN poll leave Lamar Jackson out of top four quarterbacks

Despite his 2019 MVP season, many NFL experts still aren’t convinced that Lamar Jackson is the league’s best.

In a debate with Domonique Foxworth on ESPN’s First Take on Monday, Stephen A. Smith shared his top-five quarterbacks in the NFL, slotting the reigning MVP fifth overall. 

Two days later, ESPN released a poll conducted with 50 NFL personnel to rank the top 10 quarterbacks in the league this season. Jackson was ranked sixth behind Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson and Drew Brees.

But after the record-breaking season the Ravens quarterback had –– a performance that earned him the league’s top individual honor –– how can so many still doubt his ability to succeed?

Smith cited two faults of Jackson’s game to justify his claim –– passing inability and playoff performance.

“There was a guy that ran the football very, very effectively, matter of fact as a quarterback led the team to have one if not the top-rated run attacks in football,” Smith said. “That would happen to be Tim Tebow when he was with the Denver Broncos. But what did I repeatedly say about my friend? He couldn’t throw the football at the NFL level. I never believed it, and that was a problem.”

Smith referenced Tebow’s rise and fall in the NFL and credited his inability to find longevity as a starting quarterback to his inconsistent and inaccurate arm –– something Jackson similarly struggles with.


The Ravens led the league in rushing offense and ranked second in total offense but earned just the 27th spot in passing offense. Jackson ranked eighth in completion percentage among all quarterbacks but first in rushing yards and sixth in rushing yards among all players. For Smith, this discrepancy does not warrant Jackson a top-two quarterback spot.

“No one can run the football like Lamar Jackson. Nobody,” Smith said. “Not at the quarterback position in the NFL. We know that. That’s just on another level. But in terms of throwing the football, even though he’s had his moments, and he definitely improved in accuracy in terms of completing 66 percent of his passes last season, I don’t think he can throw the football like Deshaun Watson.”

Smith referenced Watson and a number of other quarterbacks higher on his list like Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees and praised their accuracy, leadership and veteran play, which earned them the spots ahead of Jackson.

In addition to the issues with Jackson’s arm, Smith also believed his playoff performance holds him back. Jackson posted an 0-2 record in his first two playoff performances, falling to the Chargers in 2018 and the Titans in 2019. 

Overall in his career, he completes 63.7% of his passes and posts a 4.66 TD/INT ratio. On the other hand, during the playoffs, he completed 51.1% of his passes and posted a 1.0 TD/INT ratio.

As Smith noted while he did improve from a 48% completion rate to 52% in the playoffs this year, he will not reach an elite level of play until he can perform in the postseason.

While Smith was certainly skeptical of Jackson’s ability to succeed in the league long-term, he still understood the hype.

“I’ll tell you this though, he is top-two box office. He might even be number one.”



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NFL unveils new Oakley mouth shield to mitigate spread of coronavirus

NFL unveils new Oakley mouth shield to mitigate spread of coronavirus

Get your styling Ray-Bans ready for Sunday's this fall. 

In a partnership with Oakley, the NFL took another step on Wednesday evening in figuring out how to best go forth with the 2020 season in the safest possible way. The league unveiled its all-new mouth shields as the latest piece of technology to try and ensure football Sunday's won't be another item added to the long list of cancelations this year. 

With a large focus of the company's lifestyle products going towards an irrefutable style, it's no wonder Oakley decided to use the slick black Baltimore Ravens helmets to demonstrate. 


But in all seriousness, the impact these mouth shields can have seems to be more than ten-fold in an ever-changing society from a health and safety perspective. As one of the most contact-filled sports there is, professional football is going to have to adapt to life under a pandemic and these innovative new features are doing well to do just that. 

According to an NFL release, the mouth shields fit right inside the inner-linings of the facemask and sport skinny slits in it to enhance breathing capabilities while reducing air particle transmission.

It's still in the drafting phases of constructing the best possible helmet additions, and after players and manufacturers send some notes back to Oakley and the NFL, the mouth shields will surely improve. 

While it seems unlikely there is going to be a final version of the mouth shields that completely eliminate the chances of contracting COVID-19, it's going to be technology like this that will make the 2020 season a possibility. 

Stay connected to the Ravens and Orioles with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.


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Ravens WR Willie Snead: ‘Can you imagine the fall with no football at all? I mean, I can’t’

Ravens WR Willie Snead: ‘Can you imagine the fall with no football at all? I mean, I can’t’

Willie Snead IV can’t imagine what fall would look like without football.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the NFL to adjust its offseason schedule, each team around the league scrambled to make changes to its offseason programs. 

By all accounts, the Ravens have made things as easy as possible for players to make the transition in Owings Mills to remain socially distant. Their hope is to make playing actual games — still not a guarantee — as easy as possible.

Despite challenges in Major League Baseball, there’s not a lot of doubt from people around the league about whether a season can happen.

“I know basketball is going,” Snead said on a Zoom call with reporters Wednesday. “I know baseball is going right now. But, when football comes around, can you imagine the fall with no football at all? I mean, I can’t. So, it’s going to be an adjustment without fans, especially in training camp, but I know once we start rolling on Sundays, I know the whole environment in our nation is going to change.”

Around the facility, players are constantly being reminded to keep their distance, wash their hands and wear their masks.

“I feel like, here, they’re doing a great job of just having everything...Locker rooms — we got separated lockers,” Marquise Brown said. “We got monitors to track how close we are to people. They’re making it as safe as possible, and that was something that everybody was skeptical about — how it would be. But once we got here, we were like, ‘This could work.’”

Both Snead and Brown made significant changes to their bodies in quarantine, as Snead dropped seven pounds and Brown added about 20. In quarantine, there was still a sense of normalcy as both players worked out for the upcoming season. 

RELATED: Mark Ingram sees COVID-19 issues with MLB, preaches positive mindset

At the Ravens’ facility, however, with all the precautionary measures in place, there’s no real escape from how different the 2020 season is set to be. 

“You have to take these tests every day,” Snead said. “Coming in, we had to wait a week to get in the building, which was different. But once we got into the building, I could just tell the Ravens organization in itself took that next step of making sure everybody is safe. Everybody is doing everything they have to do to make sure that we are all being safe, staying clean, and just making sure that we are taking care of ourselves, at the end of the day.”

With those specific measures in place the hope is to have a full, and as normal as possible, regular season.

“I know the NFL and the NFLPA took the best steps to make sure that we can have football this year,” Snead said. “And when it comes down to it, every guy has to hold themself accountable to make sure that they’re ready for Sundays, they’re healthy for Sundays. And hopefully, we can make sure this thing goes all the way.”

Stay connected to the Ravens and Orioles with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.