Just days after the Ravens were upset by the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs, quarterback Lamar Jackson had a meeting with coach John Harbaugh about how he can get better this offseason.
Considering Jackson was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player by a unanimous vote, the conversation wasn't very long.
Jackson has continuously impressed his coaches and teammates with his work ethic and he has a clear plan to improve his speed, accuracy and strength before the 2020 season kicks off.
“I want to work on my timing, getting the ball out even faster because those guys in the league, they’re coming,” Jackson said on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “Defensive guys, they’re running 4.4s, 4.5s. It’s like, ‘Man, we’ve got to get this ball out of your hand and put it in a dynamic playmaker’s hands faster.’ I want to work on everything, though, even the running. I just want to be a great player.”
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. He 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).
Jackson is just the ninth player to ever win both the Heisman Trophy and NFL MVP, joining Frank Sinkwich (1944), Paul Hornung (1961), Roger Staubach (1971), O.J. Simpson (1973), Earl Campbell (1978 and 1979), Marcus Allen (1985), Barry Sanders (1997) and Cam Newton (2015).
In a 28-12 loss to the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs, Jackson completed 31 of 59 pass attempts for 365 yards with the two interceptions. He also ran for 143 yards and touchdown on 20 carries, but also lost a fumble. Overall, Jackson produced 508 of Baltimore's 530 yards of total offense.
Jackson has taken some criticism for that playoff loss because he is now 0-2 in the postseason.
However, his progress and mentality are the least of Harbaugh's concerns.
"He really understands where he needs to improve in order for us to keep making steps as an offense. It’s really interesting to look at Lamar Jackson, because look at the progress he made in the last year," Harbaugh said. "Because the same question, I think you might have asked it last year, how is he going to get better going forward? And he did a good job, right? He’s 23 years old.
"He’s younger than Joe Burrow. So, he has a pretty good head start right now. He’s along the way. The Manning brothers combined to, they had five losses in their first five playoff games before they won one. [Joe] Montana, [Steve] Young and [Brett] Favre didn’t start a playoff game until their third season, [Drew] Brees and [Troy] Aikman, until their fourth season, and [Aaron] Rodgers until his fifth season. Interesting. So, everybody is different, right? But I’m really confident in Lamar and his understanding the things he needs to do to get better, and that he’s going to work really hard to keep building himself up as a player.”