OWINGS MILLS — Lamar Jackson routinely makes dazzling plays on the football field and they still continue to surprise his position coach.
“Almost every day, almost every game, he drops my jaw. I don’t want to ever lose that,” Ravens quarterbacks coach James Urban said Thursday. “I always say to him ‘The two worst kinds of players to coach are the player that does nothing that I coach and the player that does only what I coach.’ At some point you let your great natural ability go and you make one of those runs that gets replayed over and over and it goes viral. That’s the only time I’m surprised with him. I’m not surprised by his work ethic, I’m not surprised by his leadership, I’m not surprised that he can throw the ball, I’m not surprised that he’s leading the team to wins. I’m not surprised by any of that, just those few plays.”
As much as they rave about his MVP-worthy play this season, Jackson’s teammates speak just as much about his work ethic, leadership and unassuming personality.
Veteran offensive lineman Marshal Yanda said Jackson’s quiet nature is something too many young players lack today.
“He’s calm and collected. He’s confident in what he does,” Yanda said Tuesday. “He’s not putting himself out there, talking too much. His play speaks for itself. That’s the best way, that’s the way I love it as a young player. We’ve got too many young guys in the NFL that haven’t done enough and think they’re going to showboat and this and that. No. Put your play on the field, let that speak for itself. You will gain respect that way. He has done that every single week.”
Yanda, 35, called himself “an old man” and repeatedly referred to Jackson, 22, as “The Kid.” He admitted to expecting Jackson to struggle a bit this season, his second in the NFL and first full year as a starter.
“I felt like this year we were going to have some growing pains with a young quarterback in his second year,” Yanda said. “That’s just part of the game because it’s hard to win every single Sunday. The kid has not had that. He’s been on the ascend, there’s been no lag, and he has gotten it done many different ways. It’s been impressive to watch and be a part of it. Credit to him for staying humble and staying hard-working. That’s the type of guy he is.”
Jackson did so much more than simply avoid growing pains. His 36 touchdown passes were a Ravens’ record and the most in the NFL this season. He also ran for more yards (1,206) than any other quarterback in league history while leading Baltimore to the NFL’s best record.
“It’s a trickle down effect. When you have guys like that making plays, it’s contagious,” Yanda said. “You have guys playing at that level, you get other guys that want to get on that level as much as they can. You get that extra two, three percent – even if its one percent out of each guy – and then you compound that with 53 guys, it does make a difference.”
Urban brought it all back to the way Jackson approaches each day.
“He’s the same guy every day. He’s consistent as the day is long,” Urban said. “He comes to work with a great attitude. He wants to be here and brings energy and has fun doing it. He’s like a little kid out there playing and that’s how he goes about every day. He wants to win.”
Follow Sean Grogan on Twitter: @Sean_CecilWhig