History has shown that the best way to generate consistent offense is to have a passing game with a quarterback who can perform at a high level from the pocket.
Lamar Jackson is certainly not your prototypical pocket passer. His running ability is such a valuable asset that Baltimore shouldn’t try to turn him into one either. In fact, it is the threat of his legs that sets up just about everything in the Ravens’ #1 ranked offense. That said, the better Jackson gets at playing from the pocket, the more effective he will be against those tougher defenses who find ways to limit his running ability with scheme.
The great news for Baltimore is that Jackson continued to show significant growth in this area of his game in Sunday’s blowout win over the Texans. His first touchdown pass was a prime example.
Below, you can see the route concept. The Texans were playing man-free coverage here. The two routes at the top of the screen (in red) were meant to put the deep safety in conflict.
At the snap, Jackson immediately looked right to running back Gus Edwards (#35) in the flat. It looked like Edwards had outflanked the defender responsible for him, but Jackson didn’t throw it. This, combined with the fact that Jackson immediately came back to the left, tells us that he was looking to the flat initially to force the deep safety to move with his eyes to the right.
Jackson would then be able to hit tight end Nick Boyle (#86), who was running a deep over route from the slot, without the safety being a factor.
Jackson quickly reset his feet and came back to the middle of the field, ready to hit Boyle. However, he saw that the deep safety was not only still in position to make a play on Boyle’s route, but he had actually started to close.
Jackson quickly reset, all with the pocket collapsing around him, and came back to Seth Roberts on the outside. With the safety now removed from the middle of the field, Jackson had his receiver in a true 1-on-1 situation.
Jackson quickly flicked his wrist and the ball was on Roberts in an instant. The result was a touchdown, and the Ravens were off to the races for a big afternoon.
This play is a great example of what it takes to be successful from the pocket. Jackson moved his feet with his eyes to work through his progressions and manipulate defenders. He didn’t predetermine his throw, but instead, reacted to the movement of key defenders involved in the play. He understood the coverage pre-snap and read the coverage correctly post-snap. He hung in the pocket, calm in the face of pressure. And he made a strong, accurate throw out of a confined space.
In his last 5 games, Jackson has catapulted himself towards the front of the MVP race, completing 67.5% of his passes for 8.44 yards per attempt, with 8 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and a 116.3 QB rating (Not to mention his 480 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground during that span).
Simply put, the improvement we have seen in Jackson as a passer since the end of last season has been fun to watch.
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