Clemens: Lamar Jackson is the real deal; he’s owed an apology from doubters
Daric Clemens is a senior journalism news major and is a columnist for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper.
Ravens’ star Lamar Jackson has proven he has the skill set to be a legitimate franchise quarterback in the NFL, which has propelled him into the 2019-20 season’s Most Valuable Player conversation and proved his naysayers wrong.
Before the 2018 NFL Draft, it was heavily discussed by critics that Jackson wasn’t built to be an NFL-caliber quarterback because he didn’t fit the typical look. People even went on a limb and suggested he try for a new position. Former Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian expressed that Jackson seemed like more of a wide receiver because of his athletic ability. According to Sports Illustrated, an anonymous coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference said, “Jackson has no shot playing quarterback in the NFL.”
It’s a concept that has been adopted throughout NFL history: Black athletic quarterbacks are assumed to not be great passers or lack mental abilities to play the position. They are then sometimes advised to transfer their athletic abilities to another position when pursuing the league. Jackson is just one of the many athletes to prove the old mentality wrong.
In fact, there are three black quarterbacks, including Jackson, that have a legitimate case halfway through this season for the MVP in Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson.
Jackson presented a preview of his game in his rookie season, as he finished out the Ravens' last seven games with a 6-1 record, but it still didn’t eliminate his doubters in the national media, and they continued to speak on his passing.
He definitely heard the critics talking leading up to the start on the new season, and after his best performance of his career so far in week one, Jackson stated in the post-game press conference, “Not bad for a running back.” Since then, he has been on a roll, as has the Ravens at the number one spot in their division.
Jackson has displayed his talents consistently throughout the 2019 season. When he tucks the ball away and heads out of the pocket, he is almost untouchable, as defenders struggle to wrap their arms around him and bring him to the ground. His smooth style of running gives a nostalgic feel of the times I watched Michael Vick in his prime. In just eight games, he has already picked up 637 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns.
His speed can be matched up with some of the fastest receivers and running backs in the league, and when you add his skill of avoiding tacklers, it solidifies him as one of the best ball carriers in the league.
However, what makes him so special is his diverse skill set. He has continued to become a more dynamic player, proving he can throw the football at an efficient level. Jackson sits with a 64.3 percent completion rating with 1813 passing yards. He has made obvious improvements to his decision making, which has led to him limiting his mistakes.
He has made it a priority to become a better pocket passer and keeping his eyes downfield. He even told the media he doesn’t want to run but rather put the ball in his playmakers' hands and use running as a backup plan.
His unique style of play makes it hard for teams to slow down the Ravens' offense, which is why they sit with a 6-2 record after beating the undefeated Patriots Sunday night.
It’s time for Jackson to get the respect he deserves, as he has proved his doubters wrong on the football field. The narrative of him being a lackluster passer is dead. He has shown he will be a force as a quarterback throughout his career.