Lamar Jackson refining his game heading into year three
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and his coaches typically have a vague answer when asked what skills he needs to improve this offseason.
The staple response is Jackson needs to work on "everything."
That's good coach-speak to assure fans that Jackson is not getting complacent after being unanimously named NFL MVP last season.
Entering his third year, Jackson is one of the league's most-hyped players and he has become the new face of the league, underscored by his image emblazoned on the cover of the Madden NFL 21 video game.
“Lamar is still relatively a young player. This will be his second year as a full-time starter, and I think, really, all aspects of his game he was able to really look into, with a critical eye, and really discuss certain things," Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "I think it’s been very valuable for him. So, I don’t know that it is just one thing. I think it’s been, really, everything.
"And he’s done a really good job of staying engaged and communicating really well. I think there [were] a lot of little things that he really became aware of as he was able to look at the body of work he’s put out so far. ... I think, really, a lot of things, not one specifically.”
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 became just the second player in NFL history to win the NFL's Most Valuable Player by a unanimous vote, joining Tom Brady in 2010. He is also the youngest quarterback to win the award at age 23.
Joshua Harris, Jackson's personal quarterback coach, pinpointed two specific areas where he needs to improve: throwing outside the hash marks and converting more deep passes downfield.
"The great thing about Lamar is he's a hard worker, he's humble and he's taken constructive criticism," Harris said on the Vinny & Haynie show on 105.7 in Baltimore. "He's coachable. He's listening to what I'm saying. He's practicing that and the good thing is he can see the results. So, now it's just him trying to perfect it.
"The biggest thing is 'let's keep improving, let's see what defenses try to throw at you in your offense, and now let's be ready to combat that and just continue to evolve our game.' Just become a better mental quarterback and understand what defenses are doing."
Jackson's teammates are confident that he will be even better this season. Running back Mark Ingram expects Jackson to follow a similar career arc of Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
"You saw the jump Mahomes had from his second to the third year, the way he was comfortable with his team, the way he's comfortable in himself, being a leader, being a playmaker," Ingram said "I see that same jump for Lamar. Man, he's special. He has all the tools, all of the intangibles to be great to be the MVP again.
"We're all just working, doing everything we can to prepare with the circumstances going on. And I think we're all getting together to do some routes and things in a week or so with Lamar and some of the skill positions. We're going to be ready to go when the ball kicks off. He's special, we love him and he's the best."