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James Lofton On Ravens' Lamar Jackson Experiment: 'You Have To Give It A Chance'

September 24, 2018
Three games into his rookie season, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has yet to produce any of the highlight plays that defined his three years at Louisville.

Jackson's role has been confined to filling in for starter Joe Flacco during the Ravens' blowout win against the Buffalo Bills Sept. 9 and two touches as a runner against the Cincinnati Bengals Sept. 13. He was targeted by Flacco as a receiver for the first time against the Denver Broncos Sept. 23, but the pass sailed over his head.

Despite the lack of explosive plays, CBS analyst James Lofton preached patience with the rookie quarterback on Glenn Clark Radio Sept. 19. Lofton, who was on the call for the Ravens' win against the Broncos, equated the Ravens' use of Jackson on end-arounds, draw plays and other trickery to any other experimental play in football.

Football is about innovation and takes time to work out the kinks, according to Lofton, a Hall of Fame wide receiver with the Green Bay Packers from 1978-86. Lofton referred to the read option, run-pass option and the Wildcat.

"Things that we thought weren't going to work at all work if you give them a chance," he said. "And I think it's the same thing with this Lamar Jackson experiment. You have to give it a chance."

Jackson has nine carries for 45 yards on the year. He did show electric speed on a 16-yard run to put the Ravens in the red zone late during the Ravens' blowout of the Bills, and he showed off his arm with a 24-yard dart to tight end Maxx Williams, too.

Just because Jackson hasn't broken a big play yet doesn't mean he isn't able, Lofton said, adding that teams are on "high alert" when they see him enter the game.

"He'll be a good QB, he can still make those plays," Lofton said. "He made them last year and the year before [at Louisville]. He should be able to at this level. That's why you draft him."

At Louisville, Jackson was prolific, rushing for more than 4,000 yards and 50 touchdowns from 2015-2017. His potential to gash a defense may require an opposing team to prepare for the former Heisman trophy winner during practice. 

"If you're going to play the Baltimore Ravens ... you're getting ready for Joe Flacco [and his pass-catchers]," Lofton said. "Then somebody says, 'Oh, by the way, they got Lamar Jackson and he may line up at quarterback or he may line up in the slot.' So, all of the sudden you've got to prepare for all of this. You've got to take the time and you've got to commit to it."

"From that standpoint, it's as brilliant an idea as you can get if you're [offensive coordinator] Marty Mornhinweg," he said. "If these plays do work and they start to function well, then you've got something going."

For more from Lofton, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox