Ravens FB Sees Change in Lamar Jackson's Game

The Baltimore Ravens quarterback looks different and is playing better.
Sep 18, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) and fullback Patrick Ricard (42) reacted after a play during the first half against the Miami Dolphins  at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) and fullback Patrick Ricard (42) reacted after a play during the first half against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
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For the most part, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has been the same player throughout his career, that being one of the most electric dual-threat athletes the NFL has ever seen.

That said, Jackson has made some subtle adjustments to his game over the years. Not only to improve on the field, but also to ensure his longevity in the league.

During an appearance on the "Green Light" podcast with former NFL defensive end Chris Long, Ravens fullback Patrick Ricard explained how Jackson has learned to better protect himself from big hits.

"I think earlier in his career, when he was with [former Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman], I think he asked him to run the ball more. It was more quarterback-driven runs for Lamar," Ricard said. "And I think Lamar was just trying to do whatever he could to get yards and all those things.

"But I think as the years have progressed for Lamar, I feel like he doesn't run at times at 100% speed because he's trying to make sure that he can get out of the way, slide, get out of bounds now. And I don't think you see those kinds of hits. Sometimes in [video] meetings, if he gets hit, we'll kinda be like, 'Yo get your ass down!' You don't like to see that at all. But he's tough, he always gets up right away whenever he gets hit."

Jackson's change in mindset is evident even in the numbers. Last year, Jackson rushed for 5.5 yards per attempt and 51.3 yards per game, his lowest marks since his rookie season. Compare that to 2019, Jackson's first season as a full-time starter, when he rushed for 6.9 yards per attempt and 80.4 yards game.

On the surface, that comparison makes it seem like Jackson was nowhere near as productive as a rusher in 2023 compared to 2019. Even if that is the case, keeping himself safe is far more important than a few extra yards.

That's especially true this season, as Jackson is playing at a noticeably lighter weight than in the past. For Ricard though, a slimmer frame could be perfect for the two-time MVP.

"I think the weight that would be good for him is just a weight that he feels really good moving and he can make guys miss and he can stay healthy," Ricard said. "He's looking really good now, and I'm excited to see how he looks when games are happening and he has to make guys miss."

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Jon Alfano

JON ALFANO