Despite his proven track record, Baltimore Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson is still a lightning rod for criticism and skepticism. Social media users and ESPN pundits have regularly brought up the dual-threat quarterback’s running style as a way to demean and bring down the former NFL MVP.
Michael Vick, who ran and juked so Jackson could sprint and break ankles, has some advice for the doubters. Now, there’s no guarantee they’ll listen, but we recommend they try hearing the former Pro Bowl quarterback out on this one.
Michael Vick doesn’t want to hear the critiques of Lamar Jackson’s play style
Jackson dazzled with his cannon arm and overall athleticism while at the University of Louisville. We shouldn’t have been so surprised when the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner continued his success upon entering the NFL as a first-round draft pick in 2018.
The Ravens, wisely, didn’t try turning their talented quarterback into a Tom Brady-type pocket passer. Instead, head coach John Harbaugh ensured the team rebuilt its offense around a dynamic player who could beat teams with his arm and his legs.
Naturally, some expressed concern that Jackson would put himself at risk of suffering a severe injury by running so frequently. He found himself mentioned in the same conversation as Vick, not for his success on the field, but because the ex-Atlanta Falcons quarterback battled injuries throughout his career.
In a 2019 interview with the Ravens’ official website, Vick — who now works for Fox Sports — said he didn’t want Jackson to worry about getting hurt.
“You’re going to get some nicks in this game. Injuries happen. To every player. Some things you may be able to play through, some you may not. That’s the sacrifice you make to play in the NFL. But bring everything you have to the table. Be the best version of himself. That’s what he’s doing.”Michael Vick
Vick said he took Jackson under his wing after the latter’s personal quarterback coach, Oliver Bozeman, put them in touch.
Jackson has continued dominating the league as a dual-threat quarterback
There are some things about Jackson which are indisputable. Yes, he puts himself in the line of fire as a dual-threat quarterback. Sure, he could afford to work on improving his accuracy or taking fewer sacks.
Here’s the thing, though, and it’s essential that we all accept it as fact. Everything that the 2019 Pro Bowl selection has done so far has worked, and he’s in a position to continue improving.
Remember, Jackson will play most of the 2021 season at 24 years old, and he’s easily among the league’s top young quarterbacks. He’s won 30 of his 37 career starts and thrown 68 touchdowns against 18 interceptions across 46 games.
This is a player who ran for 2,906 yards and 19 touchdowns in his first three seasons as a quarterback. Only Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb, who ran for 3,557 yards over the last three years, has more rushing yards than Jackson among players selected in 2018.
Even if his statistics regressed last season, it’s hard to dispute that Jackson is finding ways to remain dangerous and frustrate defenses … well, unless you make it your goal to try dragging the electrifying Ravens star down.
Jackson’s critics still use his skillset against him
Very rarely is a professional athlete safe from criticism. Even Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the current face of the league and a generational talent, earned some tough love and inane hot takes after losing to Tom Brady in Super Bowl 55 earlier this year.
Jackson might never reach Mahomes’ tier of being primarily free from condemnation, but that’s not on him. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler suggested earlier this year that this will be the season when defenses figure the Ravens’ fourth-year quarterback out.
Why? What makes this season any more different than last year, when he was the reigning MVP? If Jackson’s passing touchdowns drop, but he cuts down on his turnovers and keeps beating teams on the ground, isn’t that enough? The same goes for if Jackson only rushes for 700 yards and six touchdowns, but the Ravens go 12-5 and win the AFC North for the third time in four years.
Nothing will ever be good enough for some people. At least Jackson is trying to control what he can control, in part because of guidance he received from the quarterback who paved the way for him.