Fear for Lamar Jackson’s running game catching up with him

The real fun of watching Lamar Jackson play football comes when he takes off running, finding that crease in the offensive line, leaving defenders reaching for open air.  He brings a new dimension to the concept of a running game.

So fast, so elusive, a joy to watch.

There are numerous NFL football observers, however, expressing concern that Jackson may be running the ball too often.  In 16 games last season, he ran the ball a record 147 times for 695 yards and five rushing touchdowns. The pundits that provide the NFL betting tips would not be shocked if he runs the ball at an even higher clip this season. Basically, he’s one of the best runners in the NFL.

In contrast, Green Bay Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers ran the ball only 43 times during the 2018 season. Following a recent exhibition game,  Rodgers expressed concern about Jackson’s proclivity for running the ball, stating, ““I love watching you play, man. That was spectacular. Have a great season. Slide a little bit.”

That’s what he does best, that’s why the fans buy tickets, why TV ratings for the Baltimore Ravens are soaring, and it’s what the opposition dreads.

Lamar Jackson ran for 50 touchdowns and passed for 69 more at the University of Louisville (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Jackson completely rewrote the record books at the University of Louisville. In three seasons, he ran for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns. Not a shrinking violet as a passer either, compiling 3,660 yards and 69 more touchdowns. Did it with notoriously weak offensive line units during his last two seasons, disguising numerous team deficiencies at UofL.

Count Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti is among the nervous , “Lamar is not going to be running 20 times a game,” he says. “That’s not what this offense is about.” Head Coach John Harbaugh doesn’t disagree, but, “It’s not like he’s trying to run, but sometimes … What are you going to do? You can’t hold him back forever. He looked good on the play. He looked good on a lot of plays.”

Jackson is aware of the concerns, knowing that injuries are an integral part of the game. The more involved a player is, the greater the possibility. But he’s going to enjoy the game, taking advantage of his God-given abilities, wanting to make the Ravens a title contender.

“I can’t talk about it,” Jackson said recently. “Each and every day we’re looking better and better in what we’re doing, whether … running the ball with our backs, or the pass game, it’s all looking incredible right now.”

All the talk about all the running game may be typical NFL bluster. Jackson’s running abilities make him dangerous, giving Baltimore an unpredictable offense. His ability to make the most of a collapsing play makes Jackson one of the most challenging to contain and among the entertaining runners ever.