MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

It is unclear to me why so many #NFLTheTVShow fans refuse to acknowledge the quarterbacking genius of Lamar Jackson when they watch him play. It is very clear to me what it is they see when they do watch him play and, sadly, that’s something that is never going to change.

Lamar is a great runner, but he’s not a quarterback because he is not a pocket passer; and though he will be considered to be an exciting player, he will never be thought of for being a great quarterback, or so the twisted, outdated and code-riddled thinking goes.

So let’s take a look at a few things:

Lamar Jackson is playing the best football of his life as quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens. He is the best player on the field every game he plays in, regardless of the position.

No player in the NFL is expected to do more for his team than Jackson is, and each week he continues to do even more.

While the Ravens didn’t seem to have a problem with the amount of money Jackson asked for in a new contract, they had no interest in making that money guaranteed. Thus, in the final year of his rookie contract, all Lamar is doing is setting a new quarterback market every time he is on the field.

Lamar is betting on himself and, so far, he’s winning. He is the only quarterback with at least three touchdown passes in every game. He leads the league in touchdown passes and passing rating, and he is the fourth-leading rusher in the NFL.

He has seven career games with 200-plus passing yards and at least 100 yards rushing. No other quarterback has more than three. He has four career games with at least three touchdown passes and 100-plus yards rushing, two in the past week.

In the history of the NFL, six quarterbacks have done that once. Lamar Jackson has done it four times.

The Ravens are no longer known for their dominant defense as they had been for most of their existence. They are now known for offense, and they are the top scoring team in the league at 33 points a game.

The Ravens lead the league in offense and 89 percent of that offense has been produced by their quarterback, Lamar Jackson, a very entertaining player, they continue to say, but not a legitimate professional pocket quarterback.

If these ignoramuses would bother to watch and to comprehend, Lamar is not trying to prove or to be a pocket passer. He’s a quarterback and he is playing with absolute freedom, a freedom that only he possesses. He runs the ball better than any running back in the league and he is spreading the ball around to his offense better and more effectively than any quarterback in the league, which is what a quarterback is supposed to do. That’s made very clear in the handbook.

What is it going to take for these mooks to see this? Guess what? Jackson doesn’t seem to care who sees it or not, he’s just going to play football the way only he can and did when he won the Heisman Trophy at Louisville and was the only unanimous Most Valuable Player in NFL history in 2019.

The Ravens are 2-1 and really should be 3-0, but that’s just the way it goes. They face two great challenges the next two weeks, beginning with this week’s home game with the Buffalo Bills, the sexy pick for many this year to win the Super Bowl.

(And, frankly, it would be alright if they did if you ask me. God love the Buffalo fans. They have known some hard times.)

As of Tuesday the Bills were 3 ½-point favorites, marking just the third time the Ravens have been listed as the underdog at home since Jackson became their quarterback. The Ravens won the previous two times as home underdog, beating New England and Kansas City, and Lamar Jackson had two of his biggest performances in those games.

Jackson rises to the occasion in the biggest games when not much is expected of the Ravens. The point can be made that he has yet to do so in the playoffs, and if that means winning Super Bowls, the statement is true. Yet in the most realistic context, it is merely a point that is not untrue, because what current NFL quarterback not named Brady has won gobs of Super Bowls?

Oddly enough, this is a match-up that will not be one of the national games. It’s a Sunday 1 o’clocker and Baltimore is going to be wired. It should be a fun game, which would be a welcome change for TheTVShow after the barkers that played out last Sunday and Monday nights.

It will be a match-up of the prototype dropback passer against a very entertaining player but not really a quarterback.

Hey, nobody has to bet on Lamar Jackson. The only one who matters is the guy who already has bet the house on him.

Bet it will be a really big house.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT