Young, Dynamic QBs Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen Prepare to Square Off
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen have already played against one another as pros.
The two young quarterbacks were able to get some snaps in the Baltimore Ravens' 47-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills in the regular-season opener last season.
Fast forward one year and the dynamics have completely changed.
Jackson is the leading MVP candidate and can help the Ravens clinch a spot in the postseason Sunday.
Allen has played a key role in the Bills' resurgence and they still have a shot to overtake the New England Patriots in the AFC East.
Baltimore coach John Harbaugh expects a hard-fought battle between two of the NFL's most prolific young quarterbacks.
“Josh looks good," Harbaugh said. "He’s really developed well. They’re doing a great job with him, they're developing him and building the offense around him. He’s built around his skillset. He’s a big, strong-armed thrower. He sits in the pocket and can make every throw. He’ll hold the ball to make the throws. He’ll scramble out of the pocket and makes plays with his legs.
"He leads the NFL in yards after contact. I think he averages 6.8 yards after contact as a quarterback. That’s pretty remarkable. He’s a hard runner to bring down so that’s going to be a big challenge for us.”
Opposing teams have tried to emulate the speed and skillset of Jackson in practice heading into a matchup with the Ravens. Few of them have succeeded in slowing him down.
Buffalo coach Sean McDermott said he might use up to three players in practice to try and replicate Jackson. While he might have been joking about that strategy, he knows Jackson will be tough for his third-ranked defense to contain.
“I don’t think there’s been a defense that’s cracked the code to this point, so to speak," McDermott said. "We’ve got some thoughts, but we’ve got a little more time to go through it. We may have to use, put a guy here, one guy there and one guy there, and just say go. He’s just so fast."
Jackson has run for 977 yards in 2019, marking the second most by a quarterback in NFL single-season history. He is just 63 yards shy of setting a new NFL record.
Jackson has also thrown for 2,532 yards with 25 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He has completed 66.5 percent (214 of 322) of his pass attempts. Jackson is just the sixth QB ever with at least 25 passing touchdowns and seven rushing scores in a single season. The last player to achieve the feat was Cam Newton (35 and 10) during his 2015 MVP campaign.
Allen is also having a solid season and has thrown for 2,591 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has run for 430 yards on 93 carries with eight touchdowns.
In the game against the Ravens last season, Allen completed six of 15 pass attempts for 74 yards. He also ran the ball four times for 24 yards. Jackson completed one of four pass attempts for 24 yards and ran for another 39 yards on seven carries.
This time, expect more highlight-reel plays when Jackson and Allen take the field again.
“It is an exciting time, I would say, around the NFL because of such young, dynamic playmakers like Lamar, like Josh, Mahomes - the list goes on," McDermott said. "Whether it’s the quarterback position or other positions. It’s an exciting time to be around the NFL.”