Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are off to a red-hot start this season. The Ravens sit atop the AFC North with a 5-1 record, and Jackson has firmly entrenched himself in the MVP conversation. According to Odds Shark, Jackson currently has the sixth-best odds to win the award.
While Jackson is reinforcing the idea that he is one of the NFL’s premier quarterbacks, he’s yet to silence all of his critics.
During a recent airing of ESPN’s First Take, talking head Stephen A. Smith offered his opinion on the Ravens’ starting quarterback. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t positive.
Stephen A. Smith isn’t sold on Lamar Jackson yet
During this segment, Smith reiterates several times that Jackson is a great quarterback. However, his major drawback to fully buying into Baltimore is Jackson’s lack of playoff success.
Jackson is 1-3 in the postseason, and his numbers are notably worse compared to the regular season. Jackson has a career passer rating of 102.0 during the regular season. In the playoffs, it drops all the way down to 68.3.
Jackson overcame a big hurdle this past postseason, as Smith mentions. He and the Ravens beat the Tennessee Titans in a rematch from the 2019 postseason. However, the following round against the Buffalo Bills was more of the same. Jackson and the Ravens failed to score a touchdown and were sent to their couches for the third consecutive season.
On paper, Smith’s concerns regarding Jackson’s ability to deliver a Super Bowl to Baltimore appear valid. Jackson has developed a reputation of struggling in the postseason, especially when it comes time to mount a comeback via the air.
However, the past is the past. Jackson is showing great signs of development at the moment, which needs to be highlighted when assessing the Ravens’ Super Bowl chances.
Lamar Jackson is showing signs of development
Jackson will likely lead the NFL in rushing yards by a QB for as long as he’s in the league. However, it’s his development in the passing game which is turning heads this season.
Jackson’s completion rate sits at a career-high 67.5% entering Week 7, and he’s averaging a career-high 281 passing yards per game. Jackson’s 442 passing yards and 4 passing touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts during Week 5 is just one example of his arm talent reaching elite status.
While it feels like the Ravens have been led by Jackson for quite some time now, it’s even more important to point out that he’s only 24 years old. Putting a cap on his ceiling is incredibly foolish.
A new and improved Ravens’ offense can absolutely win a Super Bowl
While statistics currently back Stephen A. Smith’s narrative, the reality is that Jackson is progressively getting better week after week. If he continues to develop at such an alarmingly fast rate, there should be zero reasons he can’t lead the Ravens on a deep postseason run at some point.
With Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs off to a slow start, 2021 may very be a golden opportunity for Jackson and the Ravens to slip into a Super Bowl.
Regardless, Jackson is a young and talented QB in the midst of a career year. Claiming he can’t succeed in the playoffs is premature. He still has a ton of football to play.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.