Lamar Jackson's first full season as the starting quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens was nothing short of magical. The former Heisman Trophy winner led the league in passing touchdowns with 36, rushed for 1,206 yards and seven more touchdowns while leading the Ravens to a league-best 14-2 record. While Baltimore was ousted by the Tennessee Titans early in the postseason, the Ravens were the main storyline of the 2019 season, and Jackson even took home the MVP award.
The improvement Jackson showed from Year 1 to Year 2 was astounding. While he went 6-1 as a starter in 2018, he completed 58.2 percent of his passes and threw just six touchdowns. In 2019, he completed 66.1 percent of his passes and averaged 2.4 passing touchdowns per game. One has to wonder what the Ravens could possibly want to see Jackson improve on after an almost flawless season.
Despite his breakout year as a passer, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman says that Jackson could stand to sharpen his passing attack.
"Picture a bar graph and there's 50 or 60 things that every day you're measured in each category at," Roman said, via the team's official website. "If you can get all 50 of those up two percent or three percent, then you're a much better player at the end of the day. I think there's a magic to his style and how he plays — some creativity. We always want to focus that creativity and that energy into winning football and winning football decisions on the field — accuracy, timing, vision, all those things. It's a constant, slow, steady upward tick in all those different categories."
Jackson evolved into arguably the most dynamic offensive weapon in the league last season after turning his attention to the passing game. He read defenses better, he made good decisions with the football and kept plays alive with his feet. Still, if he can continue to improve his downfield passing, Jackson could do more than just win the MVP award. In 2019, Jackson only attempted 60 deep pass attempts, which ranked No. 15 in the league, and completed just 33.3 percent of his deep balls, which ranked No. 23 in the league according to Player Profiler.
"We're talking about pushing the ball to spots where the defense is not," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "Our offense -- like any offense -- the idea is to force people to defend certain things. Hopefully, they can't do it in a balanced way, and you have to overcommit resources to certain aspects of the game. That's the chess game.
"And a lot of times, the way our offense sets up sometimes, those throws will be outside, intermediate or downfield – downfield down the middle or down the sidelines. It can be on the sidelines with outs, comebacks, deep curls, deep stop routes. It can be deep stop routes over the middle. These are all types of routes that we have time to throw, a lot of times. If we can, really, [we want to] more and more hurt people."
The Ravens hope Jackson is following the path Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes took during his first few seasons in the league. Mahomes like Jackson won league MVP in his first full season as starter, and followed it up with a Super Bowl victory in February.