Cleveland Browns must make Lamar Jackson pay for mistakes
The Cleveland Browns take on the Baltimore Ravens this week in a divisional matchup. The Browns key to victory is making Lamar Jackson pay for his mistakes.
The Cleveland Browns defense has a tall task in front of them whey they face the Ravens this Sunday. Their offense begins and ends with their second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson. Capitalizing off of Jackson’s mistakes is a must if the Browns want to leave M&T Bank Stadium with a win.
Lamar Jackson might possibly be the most polarizing football player in the NFL. Jackson’s supporters will say he’s the most dynamic playmaker in the league and call him things like Michael Vick 2.0. Jackson’s detractors will say he’s a glorified running back who occasionally throws the football.
As it often does, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. While it is true, Jackson creates the most problems with his legs, he has become highly proficient at picking up third downs with his arm. Let’s take a look at what Jackson does well and what are the parts of his game the Browns can exploit in this AFC North matchup.
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Jackson’s game is predicated on his ability to leave the pocket, tuck the ball, and become the ball carrier. Many times, this comes on a called run plays for Jackson, which creates a numbers problem. Putting eight men in the box is usually the answer for stopping the run, although in this situation even that doesn’t give the defense a numbers advantage.
The most underrated factor of Jackson’s running is his ability to not take clean shots from would-be tacklers. That is where the Browns must capitalize. When Jackson, either called run or otherwise, decides to become the ball carrier, the Browns must make their tackles count.
Getting good clean shots on Jackson is the only way to deter him from running. If the Browns are able to get a few solid tackles on Jackson it could also deter the Raven’s coaching staff from exposing their quarterback to unnecessary damage.
While Jackson isn’t going to be Peyton Manning anytime soon, he has improved as a passer. Jackson’s biggest strength in the passing game is his ability to hold onto the ball for an extra beat and hit his tight ends in the underneath game. This is no doubt part of the Ravens game plan, due to Jackson’s ability to keep plays alive and the strength of their tight end room.
Jackson also has a decent deep ball and a very dangerous deep threat in Marquise Brown. “Hollywood” Brown possesses elite game-breaking speed, and the Ravens will take their share of shots down the field. Damarious Randall will have to be cognizant of Brown all afternoon to help nullify Jackson’s deep shots to the speedy rookie receiver.
Where the Browns can exploit Jackson’s weakness as a passer is his tendency to throw up “prayer” balls when properly rushed. This is a tough ask of the Browns pass rushers. If Myles Garrett and company are too aggressive and come in recklessly when pressuring Jackson, it gives him the ability to make the first man miss and opens up running lanes for him to take advantage of.
The Browns best chance for forcing mistakes is staying disciplined and maintaining their rush lanes when pursuing Jackson. If properly rushed, Jackson will give the Browns defensive backs opportunities for interceptions. Jackson will even throw the ball across his body to the center of the field at times. The Browns absolutely have to make Jackson play when he makes mistakes that large.
In what will surely be a close game, the Browns have to take advantage of Lamar Jackson’s miscues. If they do not, it will be a long day at M&T Bank Stadium.