Ravens mentor John Harbaugh defends Lamar Jackson

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended Lamar Jackson’s playoff disappointment on Friday, featuring the advancement the quarterback has made in two NFL seasons.

“He’s 23 years old. He’s younger than Joe Burrow, OK?” Harbaugh said at his end-of-season news conference. “So he’s got a pretty good head start right now. I mean, he’s along the way.

“The Manning brothers combined to … they had five losses in their first five playoff games before they won one. [Joe] Montana, [Steve] Young and [Brett] Favre didn’t start a playoff game until their third season. [Drew] Brees and [Troy] Aikman until their fourth season, and [Aaron] Rodgers until his fifth season. Interesting.”

Jackson is the front-runner for NFL MVP after becoming the first player to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a similar season. Yet, he wasn’t the equivalent dominating force in Saturday’s 28-12 divisional playoff misfortune to the Tennessee Titans, throwing two interferences and fumbling once.

In two seasons, Jackson is 19-3 in the regular season and 0-2 in the postseason.

Inquired as to whether Jackson tends to be too self-critical, Harbaugh stated, “I think he understands what it is to take responsibility. And he also has a great sense of urgency to be successful and what it takes to be successful. So no, Lamar doesn’t lack for confidence. He’s not doubting himself if that’s the implication that those people are making.”

Jackson met with Harbaugh in his office “for a good while” Wednesday. Harbaugh asked Jackson where he needs to improve.

“Without getting into what they are specifically, he nailed it, the priority list, in the same order that [offensive coordinator Greg Roman] and I nailed the priority list when we were talking on Monday,” Harbaugh said.

Toward the beginning of the season, the greatest inquiry encompassing the Ravens was whether Jackson could become a real NFL passer. He led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes and completed third in passer rating (113.3).

A year ago, Harbaugh recognized that a few beneficiaries probably won’t be eager to play in Baltimore’s offense. Does he foresee that not being an issue now?

“Yes I do,” Harbaugh said. “If you remember last year, I said it in a way like, ‘They’re going to find out.’ Yes, I believe players are going to be very excited to be here and part of this offense.”

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