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NFL: MVP Lamar Jackson has to 'tighten up his game,' says Baltimore Ravens coach

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson Enter caption
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson Enter caption
Amaar Burton
ANALYST
Modified 07 Nov 2020, 11:52 IST
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The NFL's reigning unanimous MVP is not having the same success in 2020 that he had in 2019.

Last season, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was a tour de force. The former Heisman Trophy winner came into the NFL with doubts about his ability to be a true pocket passer, but in 2019 he led the league in passing touchdowns and had two games in which he posted a perfect passer rating. He set an NFL record for rushing yards in a season by a QB, leading the Ravens to an AFC-best 14-2 record in the regular season.

Although the Baltimore Ravens exited the playoffs earlier than expected, losing in the divisional round to the Tennessee Titans, Jackson put himself on the map as a superstar and entered the conversation as the best quarterback in the league.

In 2020, it hasn't been the same.

Jackson is still generally good -- arguably great -- but he and the Baltimore Ravens are not dominating the competition consistently like they were last year.

After leading the NFL in passing touchdowns last season, Jackson's 12 TD's through the air this season currently having him ranked 19th in that category. He ranks 27th in passing yards, 30th in completion percentage and 21st in passer rating.

Last season, Jackson rushed or 1,206 yards and 7 touchdowns, averaging 80.4 yards per game on the ground. Going into Week 9 this season, he's rushed for 411 yards and two TD's, averaging 58.7 yards per game.

Can Lamar Jackson lead the Baltimore Ravens past the Pittsburgh Steelers?

At 5-2, the Baltimore Ravens are still on track for the postseason, but they're looking up at the 7-0 Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North.

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Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh told ESPN on Friday that Jackson, 23 years old, has improvements to make.

"He still has a lot to learn, but the great thing about Lamar is he recognizes that," Harbaugh said. "He understands that people are making him the focus. He has got to find a way to tighten up his game and beat those things with precision and accuracy and his mind. They're doing everything they can with a lot of smart and talented people to stop Lamar Jackson the week that they play him."

It's not like Jackson suddenly became a worse football player during the offseason.

Part of the problem is that the Baltimore Ravens' offensive line has been beset by injuries. Last week, All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley went down for the season with an ankle injury.

Receivers have been dropping passes and producing inconsistently. That may have been why the Ravens took a chance by signing former All-Pro WR Dez Bryant recently, who hasn't played in the NFL since 2017.

Baltimore's traditionally strong defense is still good enough to sustain a deep playoff run, but Jackson and the offense need to be better.

Published 07 Nov 2020, 11:52 IST
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