Lamar Jackson had the kind of night against the New York Jets that Ravens fans have grown accustomed to this season. As usual, he was exciting every time he ran the ball Thursday night—and deadly whenever he passed it.
Like it has in 11 other games this season, his play led the way to victory for Baltimore. But this wasn’t just any old win. With it, the Ravens clinched the division title and moved a step closer to locking up the No. 1 seed in the AFC for the playoffs.
But this game was about more than just winning the division and playoff seeding. It was another chance for Lamar Jackson to show his doubters that they were wrong about him.
Well—they were right about his potential impact as a runner, but not about his potential as a passer.
Lamar Jackson was expected to set the record for most rushing yards in a single season by a quarterback and did so early in the first quarter on this run:
Former record holder Michael Vick was among those congratulating Jackson via social media during the game:
But what many fans were probably not aware of was just how well he has been throwing the ball this year. He entered the game with 28 passing touchdowns and needed only two to become the second Ravens quarterback to throw 30 touchdown passes in a single season.
Vinny Testaverde holds the high mark with 33—but now shares it with Jackson after he threw five more Thursday night.
But it will likely become his in the first quarter next week.
Lamar Jackson is an exciting, dynamic player that has the world at his feet right now. He’s riding the high from all of his success, as is the team and the fans. But they all may want to be sure and appreciate it to the fullest—because it isn’t going to last.
Yes, he can pass, but Jackson is, first and foremost, a running quarterback. Just like every running quarterback before him, he is going to take one too many hits (like he did at the end of his record-setting run) and go down with an injury.
His athleticism will keep him safe—to a degree—but defensive players are becoming faster and faster with each season. As coaches watch more film on him, someone is bound to develop a defense that will be able to contain him.
Being the competitor that he is, he is going to try to outsmart—and failing that, outrun—that defense. In the process, he is going to take a lot of hits. The more hits a player takes, the more likely he is to have a severe injury.
Since every defender wants to lay his best hit on the opposing quarterback, the danger is even greater for Jackson.
It happened to Michael Vick (broken leg). It happened to Robert Griffin III (knee) back during his Redskins days. Colin Kaepernick’s descent began with a shoulder injury—and then there is the injury-riddled career of Cam Newton.
So, don’t take him for granted, Ravens fans. Don’t bank on having him for the next 15 years. Act like every year is the last (because it might be). Appreciate him and enjoy him—while you still can.