Ravens coach John Harbaugh emphatically defended quarterback Lamar Jackson’s throwing ability Monday, saying he had no use for questions about the rookie’s acumen on that side of the job.
Jackson rushed for 117 yards in his first career start against the Cincinnati Bengals, almost twice as many as any previous Ravens quarterback had managed in a game. But he still left skeptics wondering if he can mix in enough throws to keep NFL defenses honest.
Harbaugh was having none of that.
“How many plays did the kid make? Running around, throwing the ball? In the pocket, throwing the ball?” Harbaugh said. “All this veiled stuff, is he really a thrower? I’ve got news for you — he’s a thrower. The kid can throw. He’s a quarterback!”
Jackson carried the ball 27 times and attempted just 19 passes in Sunday’s victory, and Harbaugh acknowledged that ratio is unsustainable.
“I think it’s obvious,” he said. “You don’t want your quarterback getting hit that much. It’s not going to last that way. I think that’s pretty self-evident.”
Jackson seems likely to start again Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, another game the Ravens must win to keep pace in the AFC wild-card race. Though Harbaugh said Joe Flacco “has a chance” to play this week, he previously said the veteran’s right hip injury would make that difficult.
“It’s not a surgical thing,” he said. “It’s a calming down type of a thing, with the hip.”
When asked whether Jackson would be the starter going forward, Harbaugh said, “I’m not getting into any of that.”
He was happy with Jackson’s overall effort against the Bengals, but more specifically, his accuracy. The rookie completed 13 of 19 attempts, throwing from every conceivable angle.
Harbaugh said the variety of Jackson’s release points — including one completion to Chris Moore on which he threw like a submarine pitcher — did not bother him.
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“He’s not 6-foot-6. He’s going to have to use different release points,” Harbaugh said. “To me, it’s [about] accuracy. … One of the things they do a great job of coaching Lamar on is the platform, the base. You want to have a good, wide base, knees bent, and you want to throw it from a low posture to bring the legs into it. I think as long as he’s got that part of it, the release point is probably not quite as important, especially for a talented guy like Lamar. I think he’s a natural thrower.”