Lamar Jackson finally takes step forward for Ravens

Baltimore Ravens

Ravens fans have been waiting to see Lamar Jackson take off for weeks. The rookie quarterback finally took flight against the Dolphins.

Lamar Jackson didn’t look like a first round pick during either of his first two preseason outings. Fortunately for the Baltimore Ravens, everything changed in his third game against the Miami Dolphins.

It’s probably too late for him to challenge Joe Flacco to be the team’s starter on Week 1, but at least he gave the fans a taste of what might be in their future. They had every right to worry after Jackson’s poor play against the Rams and Colts. The rookie was a combined 14 for 33 for just 168 yards in his first two outings. Nothing about those numbers was exciting anyone in Baltimore.

Jackson needed to play much better against the Dolphins to build some momentum. Fortunately for everyone in the Ravens organization, he did just that. He only threw for 98 yards against Miami, but he was a much more efficient passer. Completing 7 of 10 passes will do wonders for his confidence. He also showed how dangerous he can be running the football. He only carried the ball three times, but he contributed 39 yards and a touchdown on the ground. In short, he showed off just the sort of dual threat talent that caused the Ravens to spend a first-round pick on him.

It’s safe to say that his head coach was impressed. John Harbaugh called it Jackson’s “break out game.” He was quick to point out that the staff had seen this type of play from the rookie signal caller in practice, but even he had to admit it was comforting to see it against a live opponent.

It’s unlikely the performance will change anything for Jackson in the short-term. Flacco has clearly outplayed him during camp and the preseason. That means he’ll get the start when the Ravens start the regular season. However, Jackson’s preseason progression should serve to shorten Flacco’s leash. If the veteran doesn’t help his team win games out of the gate, Jackson has now shown enough to become a legitimate option to replace Flacco is things aren’t going well.

It will still be interesting to see how Harbaugh elects to split up reps between the two players moving forward. Flacco shouldn’t play much, if at all, during the team’s fourth and final preseason game. That could open the door for Jackson to get a lot of work this week.

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Everything will change when regular season preparations begin though. The temptation will be to give Flacco the lion’s share of reps with the first team to maximize his preparation. It will still be important for the Ravens to give Jackson regular work to continue his development.

Jackson still has a long way to go before he’s ready to start a meaningful game, but his play against the Dolphins was a step in the right direction. Ravens fans will be watching him intently over the next several weeks to see if he can keep his momentum going.

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