Aaron Rodgers knows Lamar Jackson has always been a talent, but there’s one subtle change making a difference in 2023. This change is helping Jackson play at a level the Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback hasn’t reached since his NFL MVP season in 2019.
“I’ve been a fan of Lamar Jackson since he was in college..
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) October 24, 2023
Speaking during an umpteenth appearance on the “Pat McAfee Show,” Rodgers said, “Every year you gain a little bit of experience, and for him, I think it’s more comfort in the pocket.” Aaron Rodgers went on to single out one particular play from Week 7’s win over the Detroit Lions that showed Jackson more at ease in the pocket.
“I love this play, and I saw it yesterday, him just staying in the pocket. You got Tracy Walker coming unblocked, basically there, and he (Jackson) just throws a beautiful ball, over the top there of the defender and hangs in there. That’s a really nice play.”
Jackson is hanging in the pocket more this season thanks in large part to coordinator Todd Monken taking over the offense.
Monken’s calling a more expansive scheme, while Jackson is also benefiting from an improved supporting cast led by receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Zay Flowers. The combination has Jackson nearing MVP form.
Lamar Jackson: 4 games with a passer rating of 150+ since 2019
No other QB has more than 2 pic.twitter.com/VClm0StfQb
— PFF (@PFF) October 25, 2023
Jackson’s improvement reached an early peak with three touchdown passes and 357 yards against the Lions. Those numbers were enough to earn Jackson AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. The 155.8 passer rating Jackson posted also set him apart from every other quarterback in the league since 2019, per Pro Football Focus.
Part of the reason Jackson is more accurate stems from having better players catch his passes. Beckham is a Super Bowl winner who can still beat defenses at every level, while Flowers is proving a demon after the catch.
The 22nd player selected in the 2023 NFL draft has amassed 182 of his 442 receiving yards once he’s gotten the ball in his hands, per Pro Football Reference.
Lamar Jackson on 10+ yard throws this season:
4 TDs / 0 INTs
123.2 passer rating
— PFF BAL Ravens (@PFF_Ravens) October 25, 2023
Jackson and Flowers have a rapport, but Baltimore’s QB1 is also benefiting from a more vertical passing system. Specifically, No. 8 has become prolific on throws of 10-plus yards, according to numbers from PFF BAL Ravens. New concepts and new receivers are helping Jackson, but he’s still also freelancing his way to more than a few big plays.