Skip to main content

Dave Culley: Lamar Jackson Passing Potential Limited by Ravens System

Former Ravens paas

David Culley had the opportunity to work closely with Lamar Jackson as the Ravens assistant head coach/pass coordinator/wide receivers coach.

Culley, who was hired as the Houston Texans head coach this offseason, had a blunt assessment of why Jackson has endured some struggles in the passing game, according to Steve Wyche of the NFL Network. 

"There's nothing Lamar can't do," Culley told the NFL Network. "Right now, though, they just run a system that kind of limits what he does in the passing game. But if they opened it up, he would be able to do that."

One of the issues is the number of opportunities for Jackson to throw the ball. 

The Ravens ranked last in the NFL averaging 171.2 yards passing per game last season. Baltimore also attempted the least passes in the league with 406.

Jackson also needs better pass protection. He was sacked 29 times last season and eight more times in the playoffs.

Baltimore's wide receivers have to get better at creating separation or coming back for the ball when the route breaks down. 

Read More

The Ravens finished 2020 with the NFL’s No. 1 rushing attack (191.9 ypg) for the second-straight season. Baltimore’s 3,071 rushing yards stand as the third most in a 16-game NFL season. Baltimore has rushed for 100 or more yards in 39-straight games, marking the second-longest streak in pro football history.

The goal this offseason is to find more balance. Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta is regularly in contact with Jackson about the direction of the team.

"We don’t necessarily dwell on specifics, or specific players, or specific things, but we look at it as really how can we improve? Where are the opportunities for us to get better as a team? Some of that might be salary-cap-wise, the type of deals we do," DeCosta said. "How can we get guys under contract long-term? How can we do flexible deals that allow us to get out of a contract if we want to, with very little dead money associated?

"The second part of that is how can we find better players? And that’s free agency and the draft. The third part of that is – there are really two other parts – how can our players who are currently on the team get better? And the fourth part is, how can we coach these guys and give them an opportunity to develop and improve?” 

The Ravens are also trying to reach an extension with Jackson before he's eligible for free agency in 2023. That deal could cost the Ravens at least $40 million annually in light of the recent deals for franchise quarterbacks.  

Jackson, who was selected by the Ravens with the 32nd overall pick in the 2018 draft, has gone 30-7 as the starter in the regular season. He has thrown for 7,085 yards with 68 touchdowns and 18 interceptions over his young career. Jackson is also the only quarterback in NFL history to run for over 1,000 yards in two seasons and has 2,906 yards rushing and 19 scores overall.

Jackson also won the first playoff game of his career this past season over the Tennessee Titans.

"He’s got a great relationship with this organization," DeCosta said. "He’s a very easy person to talk to, and certainly deserves a contract. He has played phenomenal football over the last couple of years, and our intention – and my intention – is to keep him in Baltimore for many, many years.”