Week 1 has arrived for the Dolphins, and I wouldn’t blame you if you were apathetic about what’s to come. The team is in a rebuilding year with many signs pointing to them tanking, potentially for a quarterback in 2020 or 2021.
But if you do choose to stick around, we’ve made it to Week 1 and the opponent is a familiar thorn in Miami’s side in the Ravens. The reigning AFC North champions have been almost exclusively known throughout their history as a defensive juggernaut, and that hasn’t changed this season. But in the last two seasons the team has added players such as rookie wideouts Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin, as well as running back Mark Ingram, in hopes to build a more explosive offense around second-year starter Lamar Jackson.
In his rookie season—which included eight games as a starter—Jackson passed for 1,201 yards, six touchdowns, three interceptions, and rushed for 695 yards and five touchdowns. The Ravens went 6-1 behind Jackson’s starts, which was good enough to secure the AFC North at 10-6, where they lost in the Wild Card Round to the Chargers.
Jackson has been widely criticized for a supposed inability to pass despite playing eight games in his rookie season as a starter. Anyway you look at it, Jackson has shown he has some talent as an NFL QB, and the Dolphins are going to experience that on Sunday.
So with this in mind, let’s take a look at Jackson’s skill set and what he has to offer in this film breakdown.
It should come to the surprise of no one that Jackson has insane athleticism as a runner. He’s gotten comparisons to quarterbacks like Michael Vick in this respect, especially since he’s capable of making plays as a passer on the run.
This is a terrific throw on the run. Jackson has to fit this in over the linebacker’s head on third down while being chased out of the pocket. He does so and leads his receiver with the precision on this pass, moving the chains in the process.
Jackson’s scrambling abilities need no introduction. He has game changing speed as a runner, and as shown on plays like this, possesses impressive tackle breaking ability.
But it’s the passing ability that is severely overlooked by the NFL community. No one’s saying Jackson is on the level of Russell Wilson or Patrick Mahomes in terms of passing ability, but he’s far from the useless player many depict him to be.
Take his touchdown throw in Week 16 at the Chargers for example.
I was impressed by Jackson’s deep accuracy coming out of Louisville, and he flashed said deep accuracy a few times in the small sample size of games he played. Andrews isn’t even open when Jackson gets rid of this pass, but the level of anticipation and trust Jackson puts on the throw is all too perfect, and the result is a sensational touchdown throw.
Jackson certainly has a lot of room to grow, but he also deserves a chance to do so. The Ravens understand this, indicated by the fact that they gave him two potential stud wideouts in Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin. The Ravens enjoy running read option, RPOs, etc, anything they can do to get the most out of Jackson’s running abilities, but as a passer they didn’t do enough in his rookie season to give him the same passing environment as say Baker Mayfield in Cleveland.
Still, with a run game that features Jackson’s legs, Mark Ingram, and Gus Edwards, as well as a receiving corps that should significantly improve, Jackson has potential to take a sophomore leap. And unfortunately for the Dolphins, this could very well be where that all starts.