Louisville Courier Journal
CINCINNATI – As Bill Polian infamously predicted, Lamar Jackson’s football future is as a receiver.
He is destined to receive awards. He is already receiving adulation. He will surely receive many millions of dollars before he has finished retrofitting the quarterback position as the flesh-and-blood cheat code of the Baltimore Ravens.
Consider: Though he threw three touchdown passes and compiled a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in the Ravens’ 49-13 romp over the winless Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, Jackson’s signature moment was a startling spin move made in the midst a 47-yard touchdown run that enabled him to elude two tacklers and left one of them sprawled on his seat.
“I said to the offensive coaches, they’ll be watching that one for decades and decades,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “Everyone in the country is going to see by tomorrow afternoon.
“That was something. That’s rare. That was special.”
Now in his second year as a professional following a Heisman Trophy college career at Louisville, Jackson has emphatically debunked pre-draft estimates of his NFL potential. Rather than requiring a position change in order to contribute, Jackson has expanded expectations of quarterback capabilities in leading the Ravens to 13 victories in his 16 starts.
“He’s obviously changing the game in every way,” Ravens guard Marshall Yanda said. “The kid is coming into his own and playing on another level.”
Concerns about his accuracy have proved unfounded. Jackson raised his completion percentage to 65.9% Sunday by completing 15 of his 17 pass attempts, one of them a sidearm throw and one of his two incompletions a deliberate spike to stop the clock.
Meanwhile, the spin-move touchdown helped Jackson raise his league-leading rushing average to 6.6 yards per carry.
Yes, he did it against the dismal Bengals. But Jackson still succeeded in slackening the jaws of seasoned professionals.
“We put one of our receiving practice squad players as a quarterback, to get the speed of it down,” Bengals’ safety Jessie Bates III said. “Even then, there’s not a lot of Lamar Jacksons being born.”
“I wish I had like a GoPro on me,” said Ravens running back Mark Ingram, himself a former Heisman Trophy winner. “It was crazy to see it. He’s just special. Special.”
Polian, the former NFL executive who questioned Jackson’s potential as an NFL quarterback, acknowledged his mistake in a recent interview with USA TODAY, saying he had made the mistake of applying traditional quarterback standards to a player of unique athleticism.
Others are now falling in line, or falling on the ground at Jackson’s scalpel-sharp cuts.
“You’ve just got to be 100% disciplined and when you are, he’s still No. 8,” Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap said. “He’s second to none in the open field. He’s going to make guys miss.”