The Film Doesn’t Lie, Lamar Jackson Isn’t As Good As Mahomes

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Once you watch the tape, the Mahomes and Jackson comparisons fall apart.

I have a reputation as a Lamar Jackson hater, which I find odd. If I was locked in a basement with no access to any other sports opinions I would say I was a Lamar Jackson fan. Sure, he’s not a very good quarterback right now, but he has all the tools to develop into one of the top passers in the league and at only 23 years old has plenty of time to improve.

But that’s not the world we live in. I’ve seen multiple articles and videos about if Jackson is better than Mahomes, which is just absurd. Jackson may have potential, but he’s not even in the same universe as Mahomes right now.

But then I got to thinking. I’ve never really sat down and watched him in detail, with the full glory of All-22. Maybe there’s something I’m missing.

So let’s give Jackson a chance and review one of his games, specifically his game against Houston. Jackson has games with lots of pass attempts, and he has games with a good Y/A, but he doesn’t have many games with both (which should be a red flag already). I chose Houston since it was the game of 8+ Y/A that had the most pass attempts with a grand total of 24 (for comparison, Mahomes averaged 8.3 Y/A and his only game below 25 attempts was when he got injured against Denver). If Jackson is a consistently good passer, this is the game where he should show it.

After watching for a bit a very consistent pattern emerged. See if you can spot it.

By my count that’s 9 plays that can be summarized with “Had guys open but didn’t throw to them in time so had to try and make a more difficult play.” That makes for a better highlight reel, but when you’re trying to win a game it’s better to take the easy opportunities.

And it’s not like every other play was a great play and these were his 9 mistakes. Those were the 9 plays (of his 24 pass attempts) that matched that specific pattern. Here’s an example of an incompletion that didn’t make the cut.

Or plays that were positive, but didn’t take any sort of exceptional skill on Jackson’s part.

(To be fair on this one, his athleticism ended up making it a bigger play than anybody else would have made, but we’re judging quarterbacking ability not running ability)

I also skipped some plays that weren’t interesting, like screens and other short passes like that. So those 9 plays really stuck out. Jackson struggles to consistently read the field quickly which causes him to make things harder than they need to be. It’s amazing that he managed to do as well as he did.

That being said, while the film backs up my opinion that Jackson is massively overrated, it also backs up that he is not necessarily doomed to fail. He has a lot of potential, which he showed in this game on a couple plays.

That last one is one I really want to focus on. Looking off defenders isn’t too unusual, but usually it’s something quarterbacks do as they wait for the play to develop. In other words they do it from the very start and it doesn’t take a lot of processing ability. The next level of looking off defenders is what Mahomes is able to do, which is realize in the middle of the play that the defender is in his way, move them, and make the throw. The no look pass was an example of this, but Mahomes does it on a fairly regular basis.

This play is Jackson doing that next-level looking off defenders. In the middle of the play he realizes the defender is in his way so moves him out of the way with his eyes. If you were just casually watching the game a lot of these other plays would have grabbed your attention more, even though they were actually negative. But this play shows just how high Jackson’s ceiling is.

Is Lamar Jackson as good as Mahomes? No, that idea is laughable. But that doesn’t mean Jackson sucks and will be out of the league in 3 years either. He has shown that he has everything you need to become an elite quarterback in the NFL. But he isn’t there yet, and there have been plenty of guys who had the potential who never reached it. Let’s all just be honest about how good he really is and not get overhyped because rushing counts more than passing in fantasy.

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06/19/2020 5:27 am

I’m interested to see if he improves as much this offseason as the last one. If so, I’ll definitely have a bit higher hope that he’ll stick.

06/18/2020 4:57 pm

I’d be interested in seeing Pat’s worst (full) game for the same criteria.
For comparison.

Reply to  pompano
06/18/2020 5:22 pm

The Super bowl will documented around here and I just don’t see Lamar’s best game being that much better, if at all.

Severely Concussed
Severely Concussed
06/18/2020 1:44 pm

I still don’t think he is long for the league. He missed seeing a lot of open receivers. The reason those guys are often so open is the attention the defense pays Lamar’s running abilities.

A high ankle sprain will allow a defense to play better coverage, and I don’t think Lamar can see who will be open enough to attempt to throw at.

He will be an electric player as long as he can stay healthy, but if his legs go, his lack of qb vision will spell doom for him.

Reply to  Severely Concussed
06/18/2020 7:59 pm

Seems like he goes with his first read and doesn’t even look for the other guys.

I honestly don’t have much hope for him.

06/18/2020 12:37 pm

Yeah well. We’ll see what happens when LJ has as many Super Bowl rings as Mahomes.

zulu trader
zulu trader
Reply to  HawaiiFiveOh
06/18/2020 1:07 pm

we will be waiting a looooong time

Reply to  zulu trader
06/18/2020 1:18 pm

Exactly. 😛

Reply to  HawaiiFiveOh
06/18/2020 1:11 pm

I didn’t know one was for sale.

zulu trader
zulu trader
Reply to  Tony Sommer
06/18/2020 10:58 am

Because . . .
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Last edited 1 month ago by zulu trader
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