Image credit to Miriam Roy
Image credit to Miriam Roy

How He Changed the NFL

The Legacy of Lamar Jackson

In 2018, Lamar Jackson was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens after playing 2 years in college at the University of Louisville. The Ravens weren’t expecting to sign any other players after they selected Tight End, Hayden Hurst.  After negotiating with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Ravens were able to trade their pick in the NFL draft, which is how they drafted Jackson. 

Joe Flacco, the Raven’s quarterback at the time,  unexpectedly had a hip injury during the 2018 season. It was then that Lamar was given the opportunity to step into the starting quarterback position for the Ravens. During this season, he exceeded expectations heavily by leading the Ravens to the playoffs for the first time in 6 years. He played 16 games, over 1000 passing yards, and over 600 rushing yards as well. Sadly, the Ravens lost to the Chargers in the AFC wild-card game. However, the Ravens had a promising future with Jackson as quarterback. The Ravens were excited to see what he could do in the long run. 

Jackson’s style of playing the position was a little different than people were used to — he would run the ball a lot, using his speed as a huge advantage to get past defenders, and would often get yards from the strategy. It worked, with him leading them to a 10-6 record. However, not everyone appreciated Jackson’s style. Criticism intensified as some NFL fans labeled him a “Running back” instead of acknowledging his true position as a Quarterback.

However, coaches began to recognize that Jackson’s dual-threat ability was changing opponents’ defenses. His unique playing style forced opposing defenses to adapt, prompting coaches across the league to seek out more dual-threat quarterbacks like Jackson from college teams. So much so that in 2023, the Ravens were the first team in NFL history to have an all-black dual-threat quarterback room. Jackson’s rookie season started a trend toward dual-threat quarterbacks becoming increasingly common in the league. While there were already some dual-threat quarterbacks in the NFL, Jackson’s entry into the league and his memorable run in 2018 caused a significant spike in the number of players adopting this style of play.

Following Jackson’s debut season, he continued to defy his critics throughout the 2019-2020 season; he had 3,127 passing yards, 36 passing touchdowns, and only 6 interceptions. With those passing stats, he had 1,206 rushing yards and led the Ravens to a 14-2 record. After this season the NFL rewarded Jackson with the Most Valuable Player award. Jackson would go on to again have more winning seasons and have an overall record of 62 wins and 24 losses. 

In the 2023-2024 season, Lamar showcased his MVP form once more after returning from injury, ending the season as the league’s MVP. This season, he had 3,678 passing yards and 24 passing touchdowns, leading the Ravens to a 13-4 record. The Ravens were the favored team to win the Super Bowl this year but fell short one game. Despite this setback, Jackson’s contract still has four years remaining, and given his consistent performance, the Ravens are strong contenders for a Super Bowl victory in the near future.


ESPN. (2024). Lamar Jackson – Baltimore Ravens quarterback.

Hamm, T. (2023, September 5). Lamar Jackson’s Ravens QB room: a “groundbreaking” NFL first. Raven Country.,Tyler%20Huntley%2C%20and%20Josh%20Johnson

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