Jackson says he will not take a vacation, he will continue training while the preseason practice fields begin
OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Lamar Jackson threw a 50-yard pass into a narrow window along the sideline to Sammy Watkins, who was jogging with Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey.
This was Jackson’s best pass of the offseason in what became his best practice of the spring. It was a near-perfect way to wrap up the Baltimore Ravens’ minicamp and begin a five-week hiatus before the start of preseason.
Before talking about a month-long summer vacation, Jackson has other plans.
“It’s really not the offseason anymore,” Jackson said. “For us, I will say, we have to keep working and stay fit. We can’t go back now, because we already had fun and did what we did during the regular offseason. Not this time. The season is here.”
Overall, it was an uneven offseason for Jackson. At practices open to the media this spring, he hit the red zone and had its ups and downs. Some deep pitches wobbled and others were intercepted or defended.
Jackson knows there is a lot of work to do to become a consistent passer. He hopes to meet his receivers in Florida in the lead up to training camp. He didn’t address whether he will work with a personal quarterback coach, which is something he has done in the past.
What drives him going into this season is how his final years ended. Jackson did not win in the playoffs in 2018 and 2019, and lost in the divisional round at Buffalo five months ago.
“We fell short three years in a row since I’ve been here,” Jackson said. “And what I see in teams that arrive [al Super Bowl], it’s hard work, preparation. “
To get to the top, Jackson and the Ravens need to go beyond the top. Jackson said a big focus this offseason is improving the deep passing game.
Last year, the Ravens completed 17 passes on throws of 20 yards or more. Only four teams (Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints, Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans) had fewer.
“People always say we launch short routes, intermediate routes and things like that, little 5-yard and 10-yard routes,” Jackson said. “But we had a few chances last year. We did get some of them, but we’re just trying to be more consistent this year, and that’s where the breakthroughs happen. It starts in practice and hopefully gets into play. We just have to keep working On it “.
If defenses are going to ‘fill the bag’ to stop the best running team in the NFL, Jackson and Baltimore have to find a way to make them pay repeatedly. Jackson connected 37.8% of passes over 20 yards (17 of 45) last season, ranking 24th in the NFL.
“I think we will have a lot of good things and we have to be ready to take advantage of them,” Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “Our goal is to win, and if teams are giving us opportunities to hit the bottom, it’s up to us to work hard and figure that out and really take advantage of that because they are game-changing plays.”
Lamar Jackson believes the key to improving his consistency on deep shots is more on his feet than his arm.
“That’s a big emphasis for me – just working on my footwork, making sure I’m open so the ball can go forward, so I can put a little tight spiral on the ball,” Jackson said.
Heading into the preseason, the most pressing question is whether Jackson will get a new contract. Jackson, who signed until 2022, has been in talks with the team about a contract extension.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Jackson won’t be distracted if negotiators can’t reach a long-term agreement early in the regular season.
“Look what he’s done, they’re going to pay him. He knows it,” Harbaugh said. “The question is, what is he going to do? What will his legacy be as a quarterback? That’s what he’s focused on. That’s the great thing about it. The other thing is a done deal.”
Jackson, whose $ 1.771 million salary ranks 400th among all players this year, said his contract is not a problem.
“I’m not going to lie to you, I’m not really focused on that right now,” Jackson said. “I’m focused on getting better. I’m focused on working with my teammates right now. I am focused on winning now. I’m trying to bring a Super Bowl here. “