Ravens Confident Jackson Will Quickly Bounce Back from Playoff Disappointment
The future success of the Baltimore Ravens hinges on Lamar Jackson.
The second-year quarterback was mesmerizing this season, setting numerous records and leading the Ravens to the best record in the NFL.
However, much of the hype surrounding Jackson ended with a quick exit from the postseason. All of Jackson's detractors that were silenced suddenly had more ammunition for criticism.
They questioned whether Jackson's dual-threat ability could carry the Ravens in the playoffs. Perhaps, teams finally figured out how to stop him, even though he single-handedly produced more than 500 yards of offense in the 28-12 loss to the Titans in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Jackson's coaches and teammates were quick to defend the young playmaker.
"He’s going to respond by being extremely motivated and determined to improve as a football player," coach John Harbaugh said. "And the strides he made between last year and this year are pretty indicative of that, and we expect him to continue to get better. I just know his character and who he is as a person. That’s what he’ll be thinking about.”
Jackson had one of the most successful regular seasons by any quarterback in NFL history. He completed 265 of 401 passes for 3,127 yards and an NFL-high 36 touchdowns, which was also a franchise record. Jackson finished with 1,206 yards rushing — sixth best in the league and the most by a quarterback in NFL single-season history.
Jackson is the only quarterback in NFL history to produce at least 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a season. Jackson is also just the third quarterback in league history to produce at least 35 passing touchdowns and seven rushing touchdowns in a season, joining Steve Young (1994) and Cam Newton (2015), both of whom won MVP honors after accomplishing this feat.
As a result, he received the NFL Most Valuable Player award from the Pro Football Writers of America.
While the Ravens dominated throughout the regular season, they were completely grounded in the playoff loss to the sixth-seeded Titans.
The Ravens expect to make another run at the Super Bowl next season, and have the salary-cap flexibility to add more support for Jackson. His teammates also expect to be competitive over the next several years with Jackson at quarterback.
"He’s a competitor. He’s the most competitive person I’ve been around," tight end Mark Andrews said. "I know he’s going to take this and use it as fuel to make himself a better football player. I know he knows that for us, he’s our leader.
"He means everything to this team, this city, and what we’re all about. We go as he goes. That’s our guy, and I love him to death. It’s so much fun playing with him, and he’s going to continue to get better. We all will with him.”
Jackson also some final words for the naysayers.
"I don't really care about what they say," Jackson said. "This is my second year in the league. Many people aren't able to bring it to the playoffs. I've got a great team with me. I don't really worry about what people say. We're just going to keep going ... and get ready for next year."