Lamar Jackson is looking like a star for Ravens

Baltimore Ravens

In one fell swoop, Lamar Jackson has turned all the ugly narratives on their heads, as he put on a passing clinic to blast apart the Miami Dolphins in Week 1.

Lamar Jackson is ready for stardom.

That much should have been obvious to NFL fans in 2018, when Jackson catapulted the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs after they looked lifeless with Joe Flacco at the helm. Despite playing with John Brown and the ghost of Michael Crabtree as his top two receivers, Jackson carried the Ravens to relevancy, showing the type of impact play that made him college football’s most electrifying player for two seasons.

But despite all the praise for Jackson’s playmaking and rushing ability, all the criticisms focused on his apparent lack of passing ability. And unfairly so. How could Jackson, who made precise bullet throws downfield with high frequency at Louisville, be properly evaluated as a passer as an impromptu starter in an anemic offense bereft of actual receiving talent?

That said, Jackson would still need to prove the doubters wrong in his sophomore season. Since the Ravens only made one real upgrade by drafting Marquise Brown — the best receiver in the class — the fate of the Ravens would almost exclusively rest on Jackson’s shoulders.

Yes, it came against the hapless Miami Dolphins, whose desire to lose is suddenly the NFL’s worst-kept secret. But a 158.3 quarterback rating on a 16-20 line with 324 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions is exceptional against any NFL defense.

It was an historic performance from Jackson, who put to rest the notion that he can’t win games with his arm. The postseason loss to Anthony Lynn’s well-oiled Los Angeles Chargers fully behind him, Jackson can now focus on delivering more incredible performances for a Ravens team that is relying on him to be their savior.

So far, Jackson looks capable of guiding the Ravens to another playoff appearance, even in an increasingly competitive AFC North. If Jackson can continue to throw rockets all over the field and display his trademark, calm decision-making in the pocket that helped him become a deadly dual-threat passer in college, then NFL fans won’t just be talking about Jackson as the young quarterback taking Baltimore places.

They may soon be talking about Jackson as a sleeper be named the NFL’s MVP. Expecting him to win the award when Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes exist is a tall task, but perhaps no team relies more on their quarterback than the Ravens, whose pass-catching weapons are thin and whose defense (specifically the edge rush) was gutted this offseason.

But Jackson showed in Week 1 that he has the quality to be a special player for this organization, one year after guiding them to the playoffs as Flacco’s rookie replacement.

A 158.3 QB Rating. Not bad for a running back, indeed.

Next: 10 observations from Week 1

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