The 2019 season saw Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson break out in his second year as he put forth a stellar campaign. Jackson was phenomenal on the field as the driving force to one of the league’s most exciting offenses. However, there has remained some lingering concern about whether his heavy usage in the running game could put him in harm’s way with the long-term goal of putting together a lengthy NFL career where he can continue to experience success. With that in mind, Hall of Famer Howie Long has some keen words of advice for Jackson to consider to help him put forth a long career.
Lamar Jackson’s impressive 2019 season
In the months heading into his second year in the league, there were many questions around his ability on the field. Much of which lies with his throwing ability and substantial usage in the running game.
Jackson silenced much of those doubts as he put together a historic campaign that saw him break numerous records that earned the unanimous MVP award vote. He demonstrated to be more than a capable passer as he led the league with 36 touchdown passes to just six interceptions, first with an 81.9 quarterback rating, and held a 113.3 passer rating. Jackson was also a significant factor as he broke Michael Vick’s quarterback rushing record as he recorded 1,206 rushing yards.
He’s also the first player in league history to notch at least 30 touchdown passes and 1,000 rushing yards in a single season. Jackson was the driving force to the league’s highest-scoring offense that also saw them become the first team to average more than 200 rushing yards per game.
The 23-year-old proved to be a tremendous impact player with both his arm and legs. However, there remain concerns about his heavy use of running the ball. With that in mind, one former Raiders’ great has some crucial words of advice.
Howie Long’s advice for Lamar Jackson
Following his incredible 2019 campaign, there are still some lingering concerns regards Jackson’s long-term sustainability in the NFL.
His talent on the field is undeniable, but his high usage as a runner has drawn concerns for many that it could be his downfall to stay relatively healthy for the long haul. It’s something that Long addressed during his interview on the Rich Eisen Show on Tuesday morning as he voiced that he hopes Jackson can be more “judicial” with avoiding contact.
“Inevitably they will get you. It’s just the way it is. The more you run the ball the more you expose yourself. There are big, physical, and fast people who given the right opportunity or the wrong spot for him could deliver the blow that somewhat impairs his career. That’s the concern. You would certainly likely to see him be more judicial in terms of getting down….Knowing when to get down and fight another play. I think that’s something that he needs to develop and evolve and I think he will.”
Jackson may be an effective runner that is quicker than most defenders, but there will be scenarios where he could take an unnecessary hit. It’s an adaptive approach to running the ball that Long and many others hope the star quarterback can take.
Countless other mobile quarterbacks such as Russell Wilson, who is a prime example of this quality, make it their top priority to emphasize protecting themselves when running the ball. That has seen him become an outstanding slider and chooses to run out of bounds when necessary. That mindset has allowed Wilson to continue being a dangerous factor with his legs, which is something that Jackson can hopefully adopt.
Another crucial step in Lamar Jackson’s development
Long’s advice that many others have spewed, such as Vick, is not necessarily a criticism but advice from others to help him be able to put together a lengthy career.
Jackson is a unique talent that has already inspired many others, especially the next generation of quarterbacks to come after him. However, among other things, he will have to develop further the habit of avoiding contact when he can.
If he can do that, along with continuing to make notable improvements in his passing game, he will be around in the NFL for a long time.