The upcoming NFL season will be an important one in Baltimore.
With the Baltimore Ravens looking to rebound from a disappointing 8-9 campaign and mobile sports betting, including special offers like DraftKings Maryland bonuses, expected to launch soon, there is plenty to watch for.
One player on both fans’ and bettors’ minds is Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, one of the league’s most electric quarterbacks who is now tasked with heading the team’s comeback effort. Can Lamar Jackson lead the Ravens to a resurgence in 2022?
Jackson struggled last season
For Jackson to head a comeback effort by the Ravens, he will have to stave off the issues that plagued him last season.
Jackson threw for 2,882 yards, 16 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and rushed for 767 yards and two scores. It was a down year for the quarterback known as one of the league’s most dynamic and skilled signal-callers.
Though Jackson tallied the second-most passing yards he’s had in a season in his four-year career, he threw 10 less touchdowns than the year before and 21 less than his sensational 2019 season. It was also his second time throwing double-digit interceptions in one season.
Jackson is lauded as perhaps the greatest dual-threat quarterback of his generation, but his rushing numbers took a hit, too, in his most recent campaign. After running for 1,000+ yards in his prior two seasons, Jackson failed to reach that mark, and his two touchdowns on the ground were the least he’s tallied in a single NFL season.
Though the Ravens’ struggles weren’t all Jackson’s fault, as other factors heavily played a role, it was an abnormal showing from a player expected to perform well game after game. If comments from his coach are any indication, though, Jackson is more than motivated to put last season behind him.
“Lamar is really determined,” Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh said in January, according to The Associated Press. “I can’t even emphasize enough how determined he is to improve and get our offense where it needs to be. As a coaching staff, as a scouting staff, we want to do our part. We have to trust in Lamar and all the players to do their part. … Let’s go to work and get better.”
Injuries perhaps to blame for recent disappointments
A major reason the Ravens struggled last season, apart from Jackson’s dip in production, was the injuries the team faced from the get-go.
Baltimore’s running back room was decimated early by injuries, with both J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards suffering season-ending injuries before training camp even concluded. That left the Ravens offense scrambling to put playmakers in the backfield.
The offensive line was affected by health issues, too, and that didn’t leave much help for Jackson as he attempted to right the ship.
“Lamar is a Pro Bowl quarterback,” Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta said, according to Sports Illustrated’s Fan Nation. “He played some brilliant football this year, and we had some struggles. Certainly, as a group, when you consider the turmoil that we had in the offensive line (and) at the running back position, that’s a factor. Lamar’s health this year, he had some issues; he was sick, he hurt his foot and all of those different things.
“We had a lot of different injuries (and) a lot of different things that we dealt with. So, I think there’s a lot of upside with our offense; Lamar is a big part of that. He’s the right person to do it.”
There’s a reason the Ravens have faith in their quarterback, who is still widely considered one of the league’s top signal-callers.
Jackson quickly took the NFL by storm after a sensational college career at Louisville. He won the Heisman Trophy after throwing for 3,543 yards and 30 touchdowns and rushing for 1,571 yards and another 21 scores, putting together one of the most thrilling careers of any college quarterback.
Though some scouts and analysts doubted Jackson’s ability to play quarterback in the NFL, he’s proved those doubters wrong. In just his second season, he was unanimously named the league MVP after totaling 3,127 yards and 36 touchdowns and running for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns, all just in the regular season.
The Ravens have built their offense around Jackson, and his skill set allows him to take that offense to new heights when he’s playing well. His task now is to get back to that consistent success and lead Baltimore back to relevance.