NFL

Earl Thomas Accuses Opposing Defense of Playing Dirty to Stop Lamar Jackson

The Baltimore Ravens have continued to inch forward towards securing the top overall spot in the AFC playoff picture. It has seen second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson put forth a career-best campaign that has placed the Ravens into a promising spot as the regular season has progressed. However, there is a notable trend that is starting to build from opposing defenses trying to figure out a way to stop Jackson, and it’s something that has drawn much disdain from star safety Earl Thomas.

Lamar Jackson’s breakout 2019 season

It has been nothing short of a remarkable season for Jackson as he pushed the Ravens towards a tremendous amount of success behind his play.

The 22-year-old has become the clear-cut frontrunner for the MVP award, while his team is pegged as the favorites to win the Super Bowl. Jackson has set numerous NFL records along the way as well as proving that he’s a much-improved passer beyond his unique ability in the running game.

His dual-threat ability has been beyond a problematic challenge for opposing defense to figure as he anchors the league’s most explosive offense. At the same time, it may have started a notable trend that has led to concern from his teammate Earl Thomas.

Earl Thomas’ concern for Lamar Jackson

The Ravens have continued to stack wins after grabbing their ninth straight after edging the Buffalo Bills in Week 14 action.

Baltimore has maintained its dominance offensively, but it has seen developing change in the approach opposing teams are taking defensively against Jackson, which he has begun to take notice. Thomas voiced a similar sentiment to the former Heisman winner but has raised that concern to being something that the referees need to pay more attention to moving forward. (H/T Jake Baer of Yahoo Sports)

“Yes. Especially on the sideline, every time somebody hits him, we’re like ‘Man, he don’t need to be taking those hits,’” Thomas said. “I think the refs need to pay closer attention to that as well and protect him a little bit more, because teams are trying — I’m not saying they’re trying to hurt Lamar — but they are definitely going at his legs more than they were doing it at first.”

At that same token, Thomas does believe that Jackson has proven to be quite durable through the hits that he has taken to this point. But this is something that could become a much more significant factor as teams will look to hone in on hitting him harder when he decides to run.

More than anything else, this could further increase the amount of attention that the Ravens will have in keeping Jackson healthy for the long haul.

Ravens will monitor Lamar Jackson’s health

The Ravens may be on a roll through the regular season, but there still lies a great deal of dependency on Jackson being the tone-setter for their offensive game plan.

That has put him front and center each week with his massive involvement in the running game that could lead to some eventual wear and tear from that usage. Jackson is heading into Thursday’s game against the New York Jets with a nagging quadriceps injury that occurred during his first touchdown pass that has landed him on the injury report with a questionable status.

He is expected to play, but it’s something that could linger if not appropriately handled. If Jackson is hindered physically in any manner with his ability to run the ball, it could have a significant impact on his effectiveness leading the offense.

The Ravens may not express much concern with Jackson’s playing style, but it’s something that will need to be monitored to a higher degree over the last few weeks of the regular season before the playoffs.