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Marvin Lewis questions Lamar Jackson running so much


BALTIMORE — Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis questioned Lamar Jackson‘s longevity after the Ravens rookie first-round pick ran the ball more times than any other quarterback in the Super Bowl era.

“Quarterbacks don’t run forever in the NFL,” Lewis said after the 24-21 loss in Baltimore. “Sooner or later, they get hurt, and they don’t run the same. But, today, he could run, and he did a good job.”

In his first start, Jackson ran 27 times (includes three kneel-downs at the end of the game) — which were five more than any other quarterback since 1960, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. His 117 yards rushing were the most by a quarterback in four years.

Prolific running quarterbacks like Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, Daunte Culpepper and Michael Vick all suffered at least one significant season-ending injury in their careers. Jackson only took a couple of hard hits in Sunday’s game, but he sustained some big shots in the preseason because he chose not to slide. Ravens coach John Harbaugh doesn’t foresee Jackson running the ball as much as he did Sunday going forward.

“I think that’s what Lamar felt that it took today,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t believe it’s going to take that many carries every week. It’s not what we’re going to be shooting for, by any stretch. But, if it takes that many, Lamar will do it. But, no, he took some hits. I think they knew the quarterback was going to run the ball. They were going after him a little bit, as you would expect. That’s something that we have to look at going forward.”

In replacing the injured Joe Flacco (hip), Jackson threw the ball 19 times and completed 13 passes. Flacco isn’t expected to play Sunday, so Baltimore might not have to make a decision at quarterback for two weeks.

If the Ravens stick with Jackson, his running style will cause matchup problems. All six of Baltimore’s remaining opponents rank in the bottom half of the NFL in run defense: Oakland (No. 31), Atlanta (No. 21), Kansas City (No. 22), Tampa Bay (No. 19), Los Angeles Chargers (No. 18) and Cleveland (No. 28).

Jackson, the No. 32 overall pick in the draft, was known for his running ability at Louisville. He ran for 4,132 yards in three seasons, averaging 17.2 rushing attempts per game. According to Pro Football Focus, 73 percent of Jackson’s rushing yards came off designed runs.

“I think that’s who Lamar is when you drafted him,” Ravens safety Eric Weddle said. “Why all of a sudden do you want to change what he does best? Look at what he did today. It was crazy, pretty amazing. He’s only going to get better throwing the ball. The element that he can run is what makes him Lamar Jackson. I hope something never happens, but that’s just the way it is. You have to play to his strengths, especially right now when he’s playing. I don’t worry about that. If you worry about that, then you shouldn’t have drafted him.”



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Lamar Jackson torches Bengals for Ravens’ QB single-game record 117 rushing yards


BALTIMORE — In his first NFL start, Lamar Jackson provided a jolt of electricity to a struggling offense, ended a three-game losing streak and essentially saved the Baltimore Ravens‘ season.

Showing Michael Vick-like explosiveness, Jackson ran for 117 yards and threw for 150 as the Baltimore Ravens delivered a much-needed 24-21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium.

Jackson, the rookie first-round pick, accounted for 66 percent of Baltimore’s offense in replacing Joe Flacco, whose 41-game consecutive start streak ended due to a hip injury.

Three days removed from going to the hospital because of an illness, Jackson became the first NFL quarterback since 2016 to rush for 100 yards in a game. The last to do so was Colin Kaepernick (113 yards). His 117 yards also set a new single-game rushing record for Ravens quarterbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The previous high was 65 by Tyrod Taylor on Dec. 30, 2012 against the Bengals.

In delivering the Ravens’ first win in 35 days, Jackson showed speed to get to edges, elusiveness in the pocket and the ability to hit targets over the middle with quick-hitting passes against the NFL’s worst defense. He finished with 13-of-19 passing and ran the ball 27 times.

Jackson’s impressive starting debut was certainly timely. The Ravens (5-5) are now tied with the Bengals, Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins for the AFC’s No. 6 and final playoff spot. A loss to Cincinnati would’ve plummeted the Ravens’ playoff chances to 7.7 percent, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index.

There were some growing pains along the way for Jackson, the youngest quarterback to ever start a game for Baltimore at 21 years old. The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner fumbled a shotgun snap (which he recovered) and he hit an offensive lineman’s helmet with a sidearm pass.

His biggest mistake came on the first drive of the second half, when Jackson faked out Carlos Dunlap and then threw an interception. The Bengals converted that turnover into a touchdown and eventually took a 21-13 lead.

Jackson rebounded on his next two drives, guiding Baltimore to a touchdown and a field goal to take a 24-21 lead in the fourth quarter. On those two series, Jackson completed 4 of 5 passes for 58 yards and ran for 23 yards on four carries.

Walking on the field to a resounding cheer to start the game, Jackson began with a bang, leading a 75-yard touchdown drive on his first series. Not attempting a pass, he ran five times for 46 yards, tying the most carries by a quarterback on an opening drive since 2001 (Alex Smith had five in 2013).

How fast is Jackson? According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Jackson hit a max speed of 10 miles per hour, the most on a single drive by a quarterback this season, on his five runs in the opening series. The previous high was 4 mph by Dak Prescott in Week 6.

By the middle of the third quarter, Jackson had set the Ravens’ franchise record for rushing yards by a quarterback. By the end of the third quarter, Jackson had eclipsed 100 yards.

The question now is which quarterback leads the Ravens going forward. Flacco will not require surgery on his injured hip, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He could miss the Ravens’ game at home Nov. 25 against the Raiders as well, according to the source, but is not expected to miss time beyond that.



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Lamar Jackson of Baltimore Ravens expected to start against Cincinnati Bengals


BALTIMORE — Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is not expected to play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, leaving first-round draft pick Lamar Jackson as the team’s expected starting quarterback.

It would be Jackson’s first NFL start, giving Baltimore a chance to observe the player it drafted to be the team’s quarterback of the future.

Flacco, listed as doubtful on the injury report, will not require surgery on his injured hip, a source told Schefter. He could miss the Ravens’ game next Sunday at home against the Raiders as well, according to the source, but is not expected to miss much time beyond that.

With Jackson as the expected starter, Robert Griffin III would be the backup quarterback against the Bengals.

Jackson’s first NFL start comes after a surprise-filled stretch of days in which the Ravens saw Flacco walking on crutches for a hip injury and sent Jackson to the hospital after he suffered stomach issues.

The first twist in the Ravens’ quarterback drama came at the end of last week, when it was revealed that Flacco’s status was uncertain because of a hip injury he suffered in a Nov. 4 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The next unexpected turn occurred Thursday when the team learned of Jackson’s illness just before the start of practice and took him to a hospital for precautionary reasons. That left Griffin, the only healthy quarterback on the roster, to handle all the reps at practice.

The change at quarterback represents a drastic shift for the Ravens, who go from one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the NFL to the youngest starting quarterback in franchise history. Jackson, 21, becomes Baltimore’s first rookie starting quarterback since 2008, when Flacco coincidentally jumped to the top of the depth chart because of injuries to Kyle Boller and Troy Smith.

Jackson, who has been used in specialty packages, gets his first extended action against a Bengals defense that has been historically bad. Cincinnati is the first defense to allow over 500 yards in consecutive games in the Super Bowl era.

Entering Sunday’s game, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he has seen “tremendous development” in Jackson.

“He’s working every day, right through training camp, right through the season, at practice, and then extra after practice, meetings,” Harbaugh said. “[He’s a] very diligent, very smart, very aware quarterback. He sees the game well, and then now all the process that goes into just training that eye has been valuable. So, we have seen improvement, and in practice, he looks good.”

In this year’s draft, the Ravens traded back into the first round to select Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner. Jackson became the the only player in FBS history to rush for at least 1,500 yards and pass for at least 3,500 yards in a season. And Jackson accomplished this feat twice (in 2016 and 2017).

He went 22-11 as a starting quarterback at Louisville and was a touchdown machine. He reached the end zone 119 times (a school record), running for 50 and throwing for 69.



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Lamar Jackson absence due to illness leaves RG III as only available Ravens QB at practice Thur.


OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Will Robert Griffin III make his first start in 686 days?

Griffin was the only quarterback to practice for the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday, three days before their important game agains the Cincinnati Bengals.

The drama-filled week for the Ravens at quarterback took another unexpected twist Thursday afternoon when Lamar Jackson was surprisingly absent from practice due to an illness. A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the rookie first-round pick has a stomach issue.

This further clouds Baltimore’s situation because Joe Flacco remains sidelined with a right hip issue. Flacco walked through the Ravens’ locker room Thursday without a limp, and coach John Harbaugh has said Flacco doesn’t need to practice to play.

The ailments to Flacco and Jackson have left Griffin as the last quarterback standing. It was believed that Baltimore kept Griffin on the roster all season because he gave the team an experienced option if Flacco went down with an injury.

Griffin, 28, was out of the NFL last season and hasn’t started a game since the 2016 season finale, when he was with the Cleveland Browns. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft has a 15-25 career record as a starter.

“I know there’s a lot of uncertainty about who’s going to be playing, starting at quarterback – but that doesn’t change the mindset that I’ve had the whole entire season, [which is] to be ready when they call my number,” Griffin said Wednesday. “I’ll be ready.”

Harbaugh, who has indicated that the uncertainty at quarterback works in Baltimore’s favor, said Griffin could be an option to start when he discussed Flacco’s injury on Monday.

After being out of the NFL last season, Griffin joined the Ravens on a one-year, $1.1 million deal. He was decisive and efficient in four preseason games, which included two starts. Griffin was 27-of-41 passing (65.9 percent), throwing for 243 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

“We played against ‘R.G.’ a couple of times. We defended him,” Harbaugh said. “We saw him from that perspective, but when you see a guy on your own team, you gain kind of a whole new appreciation, and he’s a pro, a very talented player. I’m just very happy with what he’s done so far.”

The Ravens have also not ruled out Flacco, who has missed six games in his 11-year career. He has never played a game after not practicing all week, but offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg expressed confidence that Flacco can do it.

“He has experience, he’s a smart guy, he knows how to prepare – all of those things,” Mornhinweg said. “I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t play really well without any practice.”

Losers of three straight games, the Ravens (4-5) have a lot riding on Sunday’s game against the Bengals. A win would increase their projected playoff chances to 43 percent, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. A loss would plummet the chances to 7.7 percent.



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Lamar Jackson absence due to illness leaves RG III as only available Ravens QB at practice Thursday


OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Will Robert Griffin III start for the first time in 686 days?

Griffin was the only quarterback to practice for the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday, three days before their game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The drama-filled week for the Ravens took another unexpected twist Thursday afternoon when Lamar Jackson was absent from practice due to an illness. A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the rookie first-round pick has a stomach issue.

Starting quarterback Joe Flacco remains sidelined with a right hip issue. He walked through the Ravens’ locker room Thursday without a limp, and coach John Harbaugh has said Flacco doesn’t need to practice to play.

The ailments to Flacco and Jackson have left Griffin as the last quarterback standing. It was believed that Baltimore kept Griffin on the roster all season because he gave the team an experienced option if Flacco went down with an injury.

Griffin, 28, was out of the NFL last season and hasn’t started a game since the 2016 finale, when he was with the Cleveland Browns. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft has a 15-25 career record as a starter.

“I know there’s a lot of uncertainty about who’s going to be playing, starting at quarterback. But that doesn’t change the mindset that I’ve had the whole entire season, [which is] to be ready when they call my number,” Griffin said Wednesday. “I’ll be ready.”

Harbaugh, who has indicated that the uncertainty at quarterback works in Baltimore’s favor, said Griffin could be an option to start when he discussed Flacco’s injury on Monday.

After being out of the NFL last season, Griffin joined the Ravens on a one-year, $1.1 million deal. He was decisive and efficient in four preseason games, which included two starts. Griffin was 27-of-41 passing (65.9 percent), throwing for 243 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

“We played against ‘R.G.’ a couple of times. We defended him,” Harbaugh said. “We saw him from that perspective, but when you see a guy on your own team, you gain kind of a whole new appreciation, and he’s a pro, a very talented player. I’m just very happy with what he’s done so far.”

The Ravens have not ruled out Flacco, who has missed six games during his 11-year career. He has never played a game after not practicing all week, but offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg expressed confidence that Flacco can do it.

“He has experience, he’s a smart guy, he knows how to prepare — all of those things,” Mornhinweg said. “I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t play really well without any practice.”

Losers of three straight games, the Ravens (4-5) have a lot riding on Sunday’s game against the Bengals. A win would increase their projected playoff chances to 43 percent, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. A loss would plummet the chances to 7.7 percent.





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Lamar Jackson ready to make Baltimore Ravens debut if called upon


OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Lamar Jackson doesn’t know who is starting at quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, but the rookie first-round pick is set to make his first NFL start if called upon.

“I feel like I’d be very prepared,” he said. “I’m trying to sponge everything in. … Whatever happens, will happen.”

Quarterback Joe Flacco, who is dealing with a right hip injury, didn’t practice Wednesday or speak to reporters because he was undergoing treatment.

Coach John Harbaugh said earlier in the week that Flacco doesn’t have to practice in order to start in Sunday’s game between the Ravens (4-5) and Cincinnati Bengals (5-4). On Wednesday, Harbaugh declined to talk about his uncertain quarterback situation.

“I don’t feel like we owe anybody any answers,” Harbaugh said.

There is excitement building among the Ravens fan base to see Jackson, the No. 32 overall pick in this year’s draft. He’s the only one of the five first-round quarterbacks not to start a game this season.

Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner at Louisville, is the only player in FBS history to rush for at least 1,500 yards and pass for at least 3,500 yards in consecutive seasons.

In nine games this season, Jackson has primarily run a Wildcat-style offense, completing 7 of 12 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown while ranking second on the team with 139 yards rushing.

Teammates say Jackson has more confidence in the offense at this point in his rookie season.

“He’s just being a ballplayer now,” receiver Willie Snead said. “Once he has the scheme and everything around him under wraps, you’ll see the playmaker come out of him.”

Harbaugh hasn’t ruled out going with Robert Griffin III if Flacco is sidelined. Griffin, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft, has been inactive as the third quarterback all season and hasn’t started a game since the 2016 season finale.

Even if Jackson gets the start, Griffin could see time to limit the pressure on Jackson.

“If I get that opportunity to go out there and play, I’m going to make the most of it,” Griffin said. “Show these guys not only how hard I’ve been working but how much I believe in them. it’s been awesome.”

The biggest challenges for Jackson are accuracy and throwing from within the pocket. In three years as the starter at Louisville, Jackson threw for 9,043 yards and 69 touchdowns but he never completed 60 percent of his passes in any season.

Jackson looked raw in throwing the ball during the preseason, completing 50 percent of his passes. Jackson acknowledged that his passes wobbled, but he has a better handle on throws now.

“I was throwing a lot of ducks,” Jackson said. “I was getting accustomed to that ball, that’s all. It’s different from college to the NFL pigskin.”

Players have been impressed with Jackson’s athleticism since joining the Ravens. Middle linebacker C.J. Mosley said in June that it’s like watching a young Michael Vick when Jackson gets out of the pocket.

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey said Wednesday that it’s difficult to defend Jackson when he’s been running the scout team.

“Since he’s been here, he’s been way faster than what I would’ve thought on TV,” Humphrey said. “What people don’t see as much is he throws pretty well, especially when he scrambles.”

Jackson’s biggest growth has come in calling the plays in the huddle. When Flacco was running the offense in practices, Jackson would practice calling plays by repeating them to quarterbacks coach James Urban.

“Before I had to ask coach 100 times, ‘Say it again, say it again,'” Jackson said. “Now, he’ll say it one time to me. Sometimes, don’t get me wrong, if it’s longer, I have to say, ‘Say it again.’ But, other than that, I’m getting better at that.”

Griffin, who has helped mentor Jackson on the field, joked that he never thought he would be a big brother at the age of 28.

“The thing I’ve tried to preach to Lamar is he’s been doing this his whole life,” Griffin said. “It’s a new level. But the cream always rises to the top. I think he’s done a good job of adjusting his level of play as he’s gotten more and more game reps. That’s what you want to see out of a young guy.”

This marks only the eighth time that Flacco will be on the injury report in his 11-year career. It was also the fourth missed practice during the regular season for Flacco (when you exclude the time he spent on injured reserve in 2015).

Flacco injured his hip in the Ravens’ last game, a 23-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 4. He didn’t miss any plays that game and said afterward the hip didn’t affect his play.

“That’s something that I hope he fans of Baltimore really respect — Joe is tough,” Harbaugh said. “His pain tolerance is high. He always wants to play. That’s proven over the last 10½ years.”



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Marvin Lewis’ plan to fix Bengals? Bring back Hue Jackson – Cincinnati Bengals Blog


CINCINNATI — A reunion between Marvin Lewis and Hue Jackson seemed destined from almost the minute Jackson was fired in Cleveland on Oct. 29. The only surprise is that it took this long.

So why did it seem so obvious that this would happen?

Lewis and Jackson have an incredibly close relationship and talk on the phone almost every week. Lewis probably trusts Jackson as much as anyone he ever has had on staff, enough to bring him back to the fold three separate times. He’s going to need that now that he’s down a staff member.

Things changed quickly once Lewis fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and took over playcalling duties himself. There aren’t many coaches who actually take on both roles, which probably is why Lewis placed a call to Vikings coach Mike Zimmer on the night of a disastrous 51-14 loss to the Saints, likely seeking advice.

That’s not to mention the fact Lewis hasn’t actually called the defensive plays on a regular basis since he was the Redskins’ defensive coordinator in 2002. The last time was in 2004, when he took over the playcalling from Leslie Frazier in a 34-17 loss to the Browns. He gave it back the next week, but Frazier ended up getting fired at the end of the season.

“It’s different [on defense], because on offense most of the decisions are made. Most of the things happen on offense,” Lewis said. “You don’t decide whether the offense is going for it on fourth down when you’re calling the offense, you already did. But the defense doesn’t decide whether the offense is going for it on fourth down and so forth. That’s why you see fewer on defense.”

Lewis admitted he quickly felt like he wasn’t able to be on top of everything against the Saints while he was trying to pull the defense out of its slump. Lewis usually leaves that sort of thing to his coordinators, but he went to the defensive players himself that day to try to snap them out of it. That meant he wasn’t seeing what was happening on offense.

“A lot of things happen when you’re on defense. I had my back turned yesterday to the offense a couple times, trying to bring the defense together. Things happen,” he said. “It could be whether or not we made a catch, and if we made a first down or not. If I’ve got my back turned, I have to make the decision if we’re going for it. Are we in four-down territory? I have to let Bill [Lazor] know and the quarterback know that they have three downs here. Those kind of things. If I have my back turned by making corrections or whatever, I can’t do that. I’m going to try to minimize that as much as possible. I feel strongly that I have to make the correction to coach the defense right now.”

When asked how he planned to handle both roles going forward, he grinned.

“I’ve got a plan,” he said. “You’ll just have to wait and see.”

That plan apparently comes in the form of Jackson, although it’s unclear just what he’s going to do on game day. Lewis implied in a statement that Jackson would help on defense, when his entire coaching background is on offense. Jackson was a secondary assistant for the Bengals in 2012, but that was essentially a placeholder while the Bengals tried to find a spot for him after he had been fired as coach of the Raiders the previous year.

“I have a great comfort level with Hue and his ability to assist me with the day-to-day responsibilities on defense, including analyzing our opponents and helping me on game days with the players and defensive coaches,” Lewis said in a news release.

Because Austin was in the booth, Lewis will lose one staff member up there and said he doesn’t plan to move anyone around. That makes it likely Jackson will be down on the sideline, where he could help Lewis by being an extra eye on offense.

While Jackson didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard as head coach of the Raiders and Browns (11-44-1 coaching record), he has proved his capabilities as an assistant at every stop. The Bengals’ offense was extremely successful when he was coordinator in 2015, albeit with many different players than they have now. It makes sense to add him to get some additional help, and he could provide intel on the Browns, whom the Bengals haven’t played this season.

The only real downside is the potential to mess with the chemistry of the coaching staff or the feeling that Lazor could be looking over his shoulder with Jackson around.

But considering Lewis made it clear that everyone in the building, including himself, is on notice after their performances lately, hurt feelings are probably the least of his concern. Lewis, like everyone else, just wants some help.

“The guys want to help,” Lewis said on Monday. “‘Give me something.’ … ‘Help me through this.’ That’s the thing, I have to be the rock. That’s why I have to hide my feelings on the sideline and not choke anybody out or anything.”

Maybe Jackson can be that help. With seven games left, and the Browns up twice, surely the Bengals will take all the help they can get.



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DeSean Jackson of Tampa Bay Buccaneers unhappy with current role in offense


In his first time talking publicly since the NFL trade deadline, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson wouldn’t confirm or deny that he went to general manager Jason Licht asking to be traded. But he did indicate that he hasn’t been as happy lately.

“Hey, man, whatever them conversations were, that was between us,” Jackson said, flashing a smile. “It’s over and done with now. We’re moving forward. We’ve got eight games left to continue to do our best to try and get in the playoffs and try to go on a run here.”

The Bucs are 3-5 heading into Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins — Jackson’s former team.

“I can’t say I’m as happy. I’m not winning. I’m not being as productive. For me to sit here and say I’m happy with that, I’d be lying to you,” Jackson said. “It’s a competitive sport, a competitive nature, we’re all professionals. Everyone gets paid to do a job and do it at [our] best. I don’t feel we’ve been doing that the past couple of games, at our best, with what we’re capable of doing with the talent in this locker room.”

Jackson indicated on Twitter in recent days that he wasn’t happy with his number of targets. He has always been known as a vertical threat, which is primarily how the Bucs use him. At times, they also use him on plays like end-arounds, but his speed hasn’t necessarily been used on things like gadget plays — such as what the Carolina Panthers did last week under Norv Turner, or what the Bucs saw several weeks ago with the Chicago Bears. The Bucs’ offense doesn’t use a ton of motion.

“In my eyes, how I see it, is obviously not how the offensive coordinator or the coaches probably see it,” Jackson said. “That can be a selfish question to answer, but I know what I’m capable of bringing to the team. I know what I can do as far as big plays and explosiveness, and I know what that does to other guys. It just sparks energy.”

Jackson opened the season leading the NFL with 275 receiving yards and three touchdowns in Weeks 1 and 2. In six games since, he has averaged 58.5 receiving yards per game, although that number was slightly skewed after a 112-yard performance against the Bears in Week 4.

In Weeks 1 and 2, Jackson was targeted on 26.5 percent of his routes run. In Weeks 3-9, he has been targeted 20.9 percent — fourth on the team. It’s not a quarterback thing either. Ryan Fitzpatrick has targeted Jackson on 22.8 percent of snaps this year; Jameis Winston targeted him on 20.7 percent of snaps.

Jackson’s 32 snaps (48 percent) last week were fourth among Bucs receivers. He mustered two catches for 32 yards.

“The frustration is just knowing what’s in this locker room, knowing the players we have, all across the board and knowing how talented it can be,” Jackson said. “It did show early on. That’s the frustration. Not being able to have the results the past three or four games, whatever that number is. That’s been more the frustration with me. It’s not individual.”





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Start Lamar Jackson? Ravens rolling with Joe Flacco for now – Baltimore Ravens Blog


OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh raised some eyebrows when he indicated that he wants more playing time for first-round pick Lamar Jackson.

With the Ravens stumbling into their bye, would Harbaugh consider starting Jackson over Joe Flacco?

“Joe has played well, so I don’t want to get into all of that. We’re rolling right now with what we got,” Harbaugh said. “Of course, at some point in time, this guy [Jackson] is a quarterback. We’ve said that from the beginning. Anybody who wants to dispute that, come to practice. He’s improving all the time. He’s getting better as an NFL quarterback all the time.”

That certainly wasn’t a ringing endorsement of Flacco. Harbaugh is essentially sticking with Flacco for now, but he has left an opening for Jackson.

Flacco’s numbers have declined during Baltimore’s three-game losing streak. He has thrown 12 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. His 84.2 passer rating ranks No. 25 and behind the likes of Ryan Tannehill and Eli Manning. What has hurt Flacco is playing behind a banged-up offensive line and throwing to receivers who’ve dropped the second-most passes in the NFL.

The popular line of thinking is the Ravens (4-5) would think about switching to Jackson if they’re out of playoff contention. Baltimore’s chances of reaching the postseason would plummet to about 10 percent if the Ravens lose next week to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Even if the Ravens’ season doesn’t reach that point, Harbaugh made it clear that Jackson should be on the field more. The No. 32 overall pick in this year’s draft, Jackson is averaging nine snaps per game. All the other quarterbacks drafted in this year’s first round — Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen — have started this season.

Harbaugh acknowledged it’s a possibility that Jackson could receive an entire series to line up at quarterback instead of sparsely playing that position.

“I would like to see him out there more and find ways to get him on the field more, if we can,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a good player.”

The problem with how the Ravens use Flacco and Jackson is that it has become extremely predictable. When Flacco lines up at quarterback, the Ravens throw the ball. When Jackson takes over at quarterback, Baltimore runs it.

In Sunday’s 23-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens passed 75 percent of the time with Flacco at quarterback and ran the ball 84 percent of the time with Jackson on the field. Baltimore has struggled to find that same excitement that is produced when the New Orleans Saints use Drew Brees and Taysom Hill.

“That’s really a challenge,” Harbaugh said. “You want to keep your offense in a rhythm. You want to keep your quarterback on the field. But you have a playmaker. You don’t want to have him run the ball all the time. He’s not a running back. He’s a quarterback. How many throws can you get him? How many throws can you get him with Joe not being a legitimate receiver out there?”

The only time Baltimore has had a consistent running game is when Jackson is doing the read-option. The Ravens have been twice as effective running the ball with Jackson on the field, according to Harbaugh.

“The numbers don’t lie there, either,” Harbaugh said. “It’s been effective for us.”

The timing of putting Jackson into games has been peculiar. On Sunday, Flacco completed passes of 13 and 30 yards to move Baltimore to the Pittsburgh 25-yard line. The Ravens inserted Jackson for a 9-yard run, but Flacco couldn’t regain his rhythm and threw two incomplete passes to end the drive.

Flacco appears to have grown tired of the questions surrounding the two-quarterback packages.

“Whatever we decide to call, that’s what we decide to call, and I’m all for it,” he said.

The biggest misconnection between Flacco and Jackson occurred in the first quarter and cost the team a touchdown.

On third-and-5 at the Steelers’ 5, Jackson lined up at wide receiver and went in motion to the other side of the field, where he was uncovered. Jackson threw his hand in the air to get Flacco’s attention, but Flacco threw the ball into double coverage into the end zone, drawing a gasp from the M&T Bank Stadium crowd.

“If you remember, we were kind of rushing around there,” Flacco said. “It didn’t get off perfect, and he’s the last guy out of probably five guys out there anyways. It’s one of those where maybe you wish you had extended the play and ended up seeing it late.”

Jackson has proved to be an effective runner, ranking second on the team with 139 yards rushing and leading the team with a 5-yard average per carry. He needs to find consistency as a passer, completing 7-of-12 (58.3 percent) for 87 yards and one touchdown.

Upon hearing that the Ravens want to give him more opportunities, Jackson said, “That’s pretty cool, but I just want my team to get together and we just have to win. We’re just going to get better, regroup, come together and just stay focused.”



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Hue Jackson disagrees with Cleveland Browns owner over reason for firings


BEREA, Ohio — Hue Jackson did not agree with Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s statement that “internal discord” led to the firing of Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley on Monday.

“I don’t really think it was truly just about internal discord,” Jackson said Friday on ESPN’s First Take. “I think that’s a strong word. I think you have disagreements with coaches. With Todd, with [defensive coordinator] Gregg Williams, with Amos Jones, who’s also the special-teams coordinator. I don’t think that’s internal discord.”

To what, then, did Jackson attribute losing his job eight games into his third season with the Browns?

“I think when you stop and look at it, it’s truly, really about Baker Mayfield,” Jackson said. “I think they want to do everything they can to put him in the situation … I mean, you got the first pick in the draft — who I think is going to be a franchise quarterback, who’s going to be a sensational player — and he’s not playing as well.

“So again, here is the perfect storm to move forward and move on.”

The perfect storm was brought on by the record and Jackson’s belief that Mayfield would have been better served in a different style of offense.

Jackson was fired one day after a 33-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers dropped the Browns to 2-5-1. He was brought back for 2018 after going 1-15 and 0-16 his first two seasons because Haslam believed the personnel he was given in 2016 and ’17 impeded winning.

“Bottom line, let’s just be clear, we didn’t win enough,” Jackson said. “At the end of the day, when you look at it, we didn’t win enough games. No matter how you cut it, regardless of what they said or how they said it, you gotta win enough games.

“You know, these jobs, there’s 32 of them and I was fortunate and blessed by Dee [Haslam] and Jimmy to have an opportunity to be one of 32. But at the end of the day, when you look at it, you gotta win enough games and we didn’t.”

Jackson said the one thing he would do differently is keep control of the offense going into this season.

“That’s what I got hired for,” Jackson said. “If you’re going to go out, you go out doing the things that you know and that you truly believe in.”

Jackson said he made the Haley hire and gave him control over the offense and playcalling.

But as he watched the season unfold, Jackson grew to believe that Mayfield should have been running an offense similar to the one he ran at Oklahoma, which was based on playing fast with quick throws — more slants, more outs, more fast passing and fewer seven-stop drops.

“I think you have to go back to Oklahoma and use all the concepts that made him be who he was, the first pick in the draft,” Jackson said. “I think you do everything you can to play the way he plays, and you build your offensive football team and your system to his liking. Because that’s going to help him be the best version of him.”

After saying a week earlier that he wanted to “help” with the offense, Jackson said he decided he was going to step in and take a more active role. He said after the most recent loss that he was going to talk to Haslam and general manager John Dorsey about taking over the offense.

Sources had said he was even going to see if he could fire Haley.

Instead, at the beginning of the meeting with Haslam and Dorsey, Jackson was told he was losing his job. Haley was fired about an hour later.

“I think we played a traditional style of football,” Jackson said. “And that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with that. But again, the question that was asked of me is, ‘What would you do with Baker?’

“I think that’s where I think the rubber meets the road. You have to do everything you can to make him successful. And if you’re going to do that, then you go back and do the things that made you draft him as the first pick in the draft.”

Asked why he didn’t just take control because he was the head coach, Jackson said the Browns’ system — as set up by Haslam — did not work that way.

“Because at the end of the day we’re still a collaborative group,” Jackson said. “I think the owner and the GM are also involved in that. Obviously that’s how we have our organization set up at the time, and that was the way we were going to go about it.

“Any decisions that I made that way, there is nothing that I wouldn’t have not run by Jimmy Haslam and John Dorsey.”

Jackson does not hide from his overall 11-44-1 record as a coach in Oakland and Cleveland.

“I hope the next opportunity for me is to go back and be a coordinator, first and foremost,” he said. “Go back and put my name back to where it should be, among some of the best playcallers in this league, and then to move forward from there. And whatever happens from there, obviously that’s going to be God’s decision as we move forward.”



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