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Jarret Johnson: Ravens' Retooled Offense Only As Good As Lamar Jackson

May 9, 2019
The Baltimore Ravens announced last month that longtime linebacker Jarret Johnson will be joining the team's radio broadcasts as the full-time color analyst. 

Johnson, who was a fourth-round pick of the Ravens in 2003 and played nine seasons in Baltimore (2003-2011), set a team record by playing in 129 straight regular season games. He worked as a part-time analyst the past two seasons.

"I love coming back to this city and being involved," Johnson said on Glenn Clark Radio April 29. "It's good to have more of a permanent role."

The former linebacker spent the April 25-27 weekend in Baltimore for draft events.

"The Ravens usually always draft not so much for need, but for the best player available," he said. "This year they seemed to kind of do both."

Johnson was referring to the Ravens' first round pick, wide receiver Marquise Brown. The Oklahoma product was the first wide receiver off the board at No. 25. In Brown, Johnson sees shades of Oakland Raiders wide receiver and former Raven-killer Antonio Brown. Marquise and Antonio are cousins.

"They're very similar players. [Marquise Brown] is a home-run guy. The guy's going to be a problem in space, even with his size. Antonio Brown's not a big guy either," Johnson said. "With [quarterback Lamar Jackson] and his ability to run the ball and create space issues for defenses, to have a player with that kind of explosive speed and ability to separate is going to be just that much of an asset throwing the ball downfield."

Even so, the offense's success will be defined by Jackson's ability to throw the football downfield and limit turnovers, he said. 

"Everything's going to come down to Lamar," Johnson said. "If you can't read defenses and throw the football down the field, it just doesn't last."

Jackson's longest completion from release to catch was 35.8 yards, according to Next Gen Stats, which ranked last among quarterbacks in Longest Completed Air Distance (LCAD) in 2018. His completion percentage (58.2 percent) would've ranked 31st in the league had he qualified, besting only fellow rookies Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold.

Jackson is still an explosive player who's able to create running lanes and slip screens for running backs. Jackson led the league in rushing yards (695 yards) and rushes for first downs (42) among quarterbacks in 147 attempts.

But it's all obsolete if he turns the ball over, Johnson said. 

Jackson didn't throw an interception during his last five regular-season starts, but he was tied for the league-lead in fumbles with 12 (five lost). He threw one interception and fumbled three times (one lost) in the AFC wild-card loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. 

"At the end of the year you get to the playoffs, and the AFC championship has two quarterbacks who are really accurate at throwing the football down the field," Johnson said, referring to Tom Brady (New England Patriots) and Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs). 

A retooled offense featuring running back Mark Ingram and rookie receivers Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin may help the Ravens get there. But if they do, it'll primarily be because Jackson develops his arm and protects the ball. 

"I love that everyone's always looking for that new-age guy who's going to change the game," Johnson said. "But at the end of the day the only thing that changes is that nothing changes."

To hear more from Johnson, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox