An Underage Sports Journal For Students of the Game

Jason Canlas

Jason Canlas

Lamar Jackson has a chance to change a QB narrative forever.

“He’s a running back.”

“He should switch to wide receiver.”

“He won’t succeed at quarterback.”

Lamar Jackson has heard it all.

The critics and scouts who evaluated him wanted to change the way he played football. From the moment he got drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2018, fans wondered if he would ever be able to do the one thing that most rushing QBs couldn’t do: win a Super Bowl with his play style. Michael Vick is the all-time leading rusher for QBs, but he never reached the Super Bowl. Randall Cunningham was arguably the fastest QB in NFL history and someone who was no stranger to the postseason, but like Vick, he also never got past the NFC Championship game. Unlike both of the aforementioned players, Cam Newton won an MVP award and got to the Super Bowl, but he failed to win one. Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes won Super Bowls early in their careers, but they aren’t known as run-first QBs.

The night he got drafted, Lamar was asked what Baltimore could expect from him. He replied, “Everything out of me. They’re gonna get a Super Bowl out of me.” A lot of people admired his passion, but not many believed he could do it at the quarterback position. A run-first QB leading his team to a Super Bowl title has been almost unheard of. But that’s what Lamar Jackson intended to do: defy the odds and prove the doubters wrong.

The Baltimore Ravens are one win away from reaching the Super Bowl for the first time since they won it in 2013. After getting his second career playoff win against the Texans last Saturday, Lamar gets one step closer to reaching the coveted prize he promised he would bring to the city. In his way stands a guy who’s been in this spot many times before (Patrick Mahomes). Their battle for the right to go to the Super Bowl will be one for the ages.

It seems like we’ve waited so long for Lamar to finally be in the position that he is in now. We thought he was on track to reach that spot four years ago before the 14-2 Ravens suffered a devastating loss in the divisional round. For four years, Lamar has battled adversity in the form of injuries and changes around the roster that affected his production. He has also dealt with the glaring weakness of not having enough playmakers around him to succeed. Just look at the other top QBs in the league and what they had to work with. Patrick Mahomes has Travis Kelce (and before he left, Tyreek Hill!). Josh Allen has Stefon Diggs. Joe Burrow has Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Before he left the Packers, Aaron Rodgers won back-to-back MVP awards and a lot of his success had to do with having Davante Adams at his disposal. With the exception of TE Mark Andrews, Lamar didn’t have a good WR group to work with. He didn’t have the weapons to get him to that next level unlike the aforementioned names above.

This year is different, though.

With a new offensive coordinator and an upgraded receiving core, this is a golden opportunity for him to not only change the complexion of his career but to change a narrative that’s been long believed for decades.

Quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson weren’t supposed to be in the position that he’s in now. As amazing as his college career went, no one believed for a second that any NFL franchise would look at him and say, “Yeah, this is the guy that will bring home a Super Bowl to us.” It’s something that has just never happened before. The narrative is that in this day and age, you have to throw the ball, and running it as a quarterback only comes in certain situations. Lamar’s style has always been the opposite. Instead of taking a sack or throwing it out of bounds under pressure like most quarterbacks do, he would take off and run. Throwing the ball was just his secondary instinct. He’s gotten better at trusting his receivers and using his arm more over the years, but his running ability has always been his go-to threat. This is what separates him from all the other quarterbacks in this league. None have the dynamic, rushing skills that he has.

It’s more than just about Lamar Jackson winning his first Super Bowl title. It’s about proving to the world that players like him are capable of reaching the highest level of success in this league. He’s not just winning it for the city of Baltimore; he’s doing it for guys like him, like Vick and Cunningham and Newton, who were all close to reaching that same end goal. If Lamar won it, he would be the ultimate needle mover that paves the path for the next generation of quarterbacks who play like him or want to play like him, showing them that anything is possible in the NFL.

The Detroit Lions winning their first Super Bowl in franchise history is an exciting story to follow, but Lamar’s journey to the top could have a massive impact on the future of the sport.