The NFL Has Never Seen Anyone Like Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson threw for five touchdowns in the Ravens’ Week 1 win against the Dolphins.Credit…Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Lamar Jackson is the quarterback nobody knew the NFL desperately needed. He’s the personification of a paradigm shift.

For so long, the same old adage applied to quarterback play: “You must win from the pocket.”

Why limit a quarterback when he can do it all? Enter Jackson.

On Monday night, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback became the first player in NFL history with at least four touchdown passes and 50-plus rushing yards in consecutive games, according to Elias Sports Bureau (h/t ESPN’s Jamison Hensley). He also became the youngest quarterback in NFL history with multiple five-passing-touchdown games in a single season, per ESPN Stats & Info.

The 22-year-old signal-caller completed 15 of 20 passes for 169 and five scores while adding 95 rushing yards during the 45-6 dismantling of the Los Angeles Rams. But this story of dual-threat suppression started long ago.

Crusty coordinators begrudgingly looked at the collegiate ranks as a wide-open, free-for-all game that didn’t directly apply to the professional ranks. That approach was for lesser coaches, who had to make up for talent deficiencies with gadget plays and non-traditional play-calls.

After all, the NFL knew exactly what it took to win. Those same coaches had decades of evidence, and the transition to something different wasn’t going to come easily.

In fact, the transition occurred in stages over an extended period of time. As such, the idea of Jackson being a franchise quarterback proved to be anathema for the old guard.

“He’s a wide receiver or running back,” those terribly out-of-touch figureheads cried.

Lack of vision is exactly what prevented Jackson from being considered an elite prospect when he fell all the way to the final pick of the 2018 draft’s first round.

Too many fumbled over a familiar comparison instead of seeing Jackson for what he really was: a complete quarterback prospect. A comparison to Michael Vick became standard because he was the last truly dynamic open-field runner from the quarterback position to warrant true franchise status (as great as Russell Wilson is, he’s shifty and finds soft spots before sliding).

The Vick comp came up short, though.

“Evaluating Jackson against the NFL standards for the position will cause him to come up short,” NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote in Jackson’s predraft evaluation. “However, he has rare speed and athleticism and can single-handedly win games.”

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SOURCE: Bleacher Report, Brent Sobleski