Starting the second half, playing with a lot of players who won’t make the Ravens’ regular-season roster, Jackson made some mistakes. He had a couple of nice plays that hinted at his immense talent, too. But mostly he looked too frenetic in the pocket and wasn’t comfortable in the offense in a 17-16 Ravens win over the Chicago Bears on Thursday night.
In other words, Jackson looked like a rookie making his NFL preseason debut.
Lamar Jackson had a few highlights
Jackson didn’t start against the Bears on Thursday. That nod went to Robert Griffin III, another former Heisman Trophy winner. Griffin completed seven of 11 passes for 58 yards, a short touchdown and an interception that went through first-round bust Breshad Perriman’s hands.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh might be teaching Jackson a lesson about earning his spot on the depth chart, but giving Jackson the second half didn’t do him any favors. Almost no starters play in the Hall of Fame game, and by the second half there are very few established NFL players on the field.
Still, Jackson had his moments. His second drive was nice. He got out of the pocket and ran for a first down, making some moves in the open field. On a third-and-10 later in the drive, it looked like he’d run again, but he kept his eyes downfield as he moved out of the pocket and hit Jordan Lasley with a nice pass for a first down. That play showed how tough it will be to defend Jackson because defenses have to make the impossible choice of coming up to stop him from running or limiting his ability to pass on the move. The drive ended with Jackson’s first (unofficial) NFL touchdown, a short timing throw to fellow first-round pick Hayden Hurst.
His third drive didn’t go as well.
Jackson’s third-quarter interception is a teaching moment
On Jackson’s third drive, he took a five-step drop, looked down his receiver and Bears cornerback Doran Grant made an easy break on the pass. Jackson’s throw was too far inside, and Grant picked it off.
Jackson misfired on a couple passes. On a third-and-6 in the fourth quarter, he had a chance to get a first down but threw too high for his intended receiver. Jackson finished completing four of 10 passes for 33 yards. He ran for 28 yards on five attempts before some kneel-downs at the end.
Jackson often looked too quickly to get out of the pocket and run. Some of that was due to the lack of protection in front of him. It’s also not the worst thing because Jackson is one of the most dynamic running quarterbacks in college football history. It’s part of what will stress NFL defenses. But he’ll have to work on being more patient in the pocket. That’ll be easier with better teammates around him.
Jackson still has plenty of opportunities to show off his skills
Jackson’s debut didn’t reveal much, good or bad. He was in a disadvantageous situation and playing his first NFL action. Because it was a prime-time game, the first NFL football we’ve seen since the Super Bowl, and Jackson was the rare known commodity playing in the Hall of Fame game, there will be a lot of in-depth reviews of his performance. There weren’t a lot of positives from it, but some.
Jackson won’t start the regular season at quarterback for the Ravens, because Joe Flacco has that job. But he still has four more preseason games to show us his progress as a quarterback.
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