Once again, we are criticizing Lamar Jackson for the wrong things

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Before we get rolling on this, let’s just get it out in the open: Lamar Jackson is not a perfect quarterback. There are things he needs to work on as a pure passer before he can be seen as a top-five player in that department, as opposed to an overall offensive weapon, and the only quarterback in NFL history with two 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Jackson isn’t great when throwing to middle of the field closed (MOFC) coverage, he can be erratic to either side of the field at times, he regressed as a pocket passer in 2020 (in part because the pockets were not as well-defined), and there are obvious instances in which he’s left schematic meat on the bone while insinuating that his passing game is too predictable.

That said, there’s something about Jackson that brings out the stupid in some people. There was the famous case of former Panthers and Colts general manager Bill Polian saying before Jackson was selected by the Ravens in the first round of the 2018 draft that Jackson should switch to receiver. There was all kinds of garbage about Jackson’s inability to win from the pocket when he was doing just that. There’s been an ongoing Greatest Hits of What Lamar Jackson Can’t Do, even and especially when he Does It.

A few years later… well, we have not gotten any smarter. Now, the thing appears to be that Lamar can’t throw eleventy bazillion passes per game, and save his team from the mulch.

We’re not picking on ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler here — he’s simply repeating what he’s hearing from other NFL teams when they’re looking to poke holes in Lamar’s game. But the very idea that it’s a debit for a quarterback to “fail” when he’s asked to throw more than 50 passes per game is absolutely ridiculous.

With Pro Football Reference’s Stathead tool, we are able to go through NFL history and tell you just exactly how many times a quarterback has thrown 50 or more passes in a game, and what the results were. From 1950 through 2021, there have been 661 instances in which a quarterback has attempted at least 50 passes in a professional football game. Of those 661 games, 142 ended in wins for the quarterback throwing at least 50 passes, 511 ended in losses, and eight ended in ties. That amounts to a winning percentage of .215, which is not exactly awesome.

So maybe let’s get a bit smarter about this. In his career, also per Pro Football Reference, Jackson has never thrown an interception when trailing with four minutes or fewer in a game. In those instances, he’s completed 24 of 34 passes for 344 yards and a passer rating of 132.5. In instances in which the Ravens have trailed with two minutes or less left in a game, Jackson has a passer rating of 142.9. And last season, per Sports Info Solutions, Jackson completed 18 of 31 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 101.4 when the Ravens were trailing by three points or more in the fourth quarter.

So, what is it that we’re trying to accomplish with this cherry-picked concept? Are we doing more than simply trying to find another reason to criticize Lamar Jackson for something else we wouldn’t expect other quarterbacks to do? Because unless you’re Tom Brady, who’s managed to come out on the winning side of 19 different games in which he attempted 50 or more passes (an amazing 13.3% of all “quarterback wins” in such circumstances), this particular ding is very much out of left field. Jackson has thrown more than 50 passes just once in his NFL career — Baltimore’s playoff loss to the Titans at the end of their 2019 season. That’s the only chance he’s been given in the league’s most run-dominant offense.

So, Lamar Jackson isn’t Tom Brady. Is that what we’re bagging on him for at this point?