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What the 2022 season could look like for Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Crissy Froyd
Lamar-Jackson-Baltimore-Ravens
Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports

There are a number of NFL quarterbacks who are surrounded by some vastly split opinions and Baltimore Ravens passer Lamar Jackson is no exception.

Some consider Jackson among the NFL’s best quarterbacks while others won’t put him above the mid-tier. He’s found himself in the news quite a bit lately after one anonymous defensive coordinator let his thoughts be known about Jackson.

“If he has to pass to win the game, they ain’t winning the game. He’s so unique as an athlete and he’s really a good football player, but I don’t (care) if he wins the league MVP 12 times, I don’t think he’ll ever be a 1 as a quarterback.”

Unnamed NFC defensive coordinator on Lamar Jackson

The defensive coordinator implied some confidence Jackson could be among the NFL’s Tier 1 players overall, just not specifically at his current position. There are a lot different ways to take that.

“He’ll be a 1 as a football player, but not as a quarterback,” he said. “So many games come down to two-minute, and that is why they have a hard time advancing even when they are good on defense. Playoffs are tight. You have to be able to throw the ball, and he is just so inconsistent throwing the ball. It is hit or miss.”

The defensive coordinator said

Related: Lamar Jackson and NFL’s top QBs of 2022

What the 2021 season told us about Lamar Jackson

baltimore ravens qb lamar jackson
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 season wasn’t exactly a pretty one for Jackson and the Ravens, who failed to make a postseason run as Jackson recorded some personal-worsts in the midst of a not-so-ideal year.

Jackson finished out the 2021 season with a 64.4% completion rate, 2,882 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. That’s the worst touchdown-to-interception ratio Jackson has posted in his NFL career and one that he’ll look to clean up in 2022. It ranked 27th among 31 eligible NFL quarterbacks.

Of course, Jackson is known for his abilities as a pure runner more so than he is as a passer.

Lamar Jackson recorded 767 rushing yards with two scores on the ground, the second-lowest total of his career in former category and the lowest in any of his single NFL seasons in the latter. There were some injury issues that Jackson dealt with, ultimately sidelined by a bone bruise to his ankle that caused him to miss significant time.

Lamar Jackson stats (2018-21): 64% completion, 9,967 passing yards, 3,673 rushing yards, 105 total TD, 31 INT, 98.1 QB rating

Jackson should be eager to bounce back from that year in a number of aspects and prove that the 2021 season was one that could end up being nothing more than a fluke. There’s no sugarcoating it, though, Jackson cannot repeat this type of performance as a passer and needs to be more consistent through the air.

Related: Baltimore Ravens schedule and game-by-game predictions

Kyler Murray’s extension: to play a role or not to play a role

kyler murray contract impact on lamar jackson
Michael Chow/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

There were a lot of questions surrounding quarterback contracts moving forward after signal-caller Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals agreed to a five-year contract reportedly worth $230.5 million that includes $160 million in guarantees. That puts his guaranteed salary behind Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson ($230 million) and his average annual salary of $46.1 million behind Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (50.2 million).

With Jackson playing out the 2022 season on his fifth-year option, how this will impact contract negotiations between himself and the Ravens has become a popular topic of conversation.

“The new benchmark, then, is in the $230 million range for five-year deals. That’s the target the NFL should expect Jackson to seek whenever he and the Ravens get around to negotiating a new deal. For now, though, Jackson remains as the only star quarterback without a lucrative, long-term deal in place. We’ll see whether this prompts Jackson and the Ravens to work on a new contract, or ride it out through his fifth-year option.”

Nick Shook of NFL.com on Lamar Jackson

There’s no question the Murray contract will cause waves across the league that will impact quarterbacks like Jackson and how their contract negotiations take place sooner rather than later.

Related: Lamar Jackson and top 2023 NFL free agents

What 2022, the future could hold for Lamar Jackson

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs for a touchdown during their 20-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Wild Card game at Nissan Stadium in Nashville Jan. 10, 2021.Titans Ravens 111
Credit: Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The 2021 season marked a down year for both Jackson and the Ravens as a whole. That much is unmistakable as the team finished the season on a forgettable six-game losing streak. The Ravens missed the playoffs for the first time ever in the Lamar Jackson era this past season. He missed five games, the final four of those with an ankle injury.

But that wasn’t all on Jackson and some of the down moments he had. Even though wins aren’t a quarterback stat, there is something to be said about the fact the Ravens were 1-4 in games without Jackson and 7-5 in contests with him.

Even if Lamar Jackson clearly has some work to do as a passer between the coming season and his most recent season, there are some bright spots to admire. This is the same quarterback who is still the only player in NFL history to post over 2,500 passing yards and over 1,000 rushing yards in a single season.

If Jackson can take a step throwing the ball, he’s still one of the NFL’s better quarterbacks and can continue his ascension. Any improvement in that category on top of how dynamic of a runner he’s shown to be will keep him very much in-line with where the NFL is trending at quarterback.

This is a big season for Jackson in that regard, considering he’s one of the headliners of the mobile quarterback trend that took the NFL by storm not many years ago. There are several quarterbacks from that era who eventually slowed down where speed and athleticism are concerned and could not cut it as a passer.

So it’s up to Jackson to show he can trend upward in that category to maintain relevance for years to come. History shows that if he’s unable, he could eventually suffer the same fate that quarterbacks from the same era like former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton did.

It will be interesting to see to what extent the now-fully healthy quarterback can redeem himself when Baltimore opens the season against the New York Jets on the road on Sept. 11.

The Ravens are expected to lean even more so on the run game in the upcoming season after losing speedy wide receiver Marquise Brown, something that means we should see even more of Jackson as a runner as he aims for better passing numbers.