NFL Preseason. The time of the NFL year where fans watch a teaser of what is to come in hopes to be entertained and satisfied after a football drought. The coaches watch for a different reason. This is where coaches try to see what their starters really look like in a game situation, before they ever play a meaningful game. For both the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens, it was a chance to evaluate what they have in their quarterbacks. For Andrew Luck and Lamar Jackson, it was a chance to prove themselves.
Andrew Luck is a three-time Pro-Bowler and was the former number 1 overall draft pick in 2012. He’s been to an AFC Championship and has led the league in touchdown passes with 40. He’s one of the most respected quarterbacks in the league. He also had not played in a real football game since January 1st, 2017 up until the preseason game versus the Seattle Seahawks on August 9th, 2018. That’s a span of 586 days.
A shoulder injury had cost Luck the entire 2017 football season, and now there are legitimate questions about how he is recovering. In the game against Ravens he went 6-of-13 passing for 50 yards, threw one interception, and got sacked twice.
— NFL (@NFL) August 21, 2018
It was very clear that there was some serious rust on Luck’s right shoulder and he was very honest when evaluating his performance.
The Colts hobbled to a 4-12 record without Luck at the helm in 2017 and have since undergone a head coaching change. It is clear the Colts need Luck, but he may not be able to give them what they need anymore. Only time can tell if Luck can lead this team to success once again, because he still needs to prove he can be the player he was.
Lamar Jackson comes from a different side of things: he’s a rookie. He is also a first round pick, but he was drafted at number 32 overall with the intention to be a developmental quarterback, rather than the immediate starter that Luck was out of college. Jackson was a breathing highlight-reel in college, posting insane statistics and winning a Heisman Trophy at Louisville. Coming into the NFL however, there are serious doubts about Jackson’s ability to translate to the next level as a quarterback.
Jackson’s performance against the Colts exemplified what his career has been so far: high risk and very high reward. He went 7-of-15 passing for 49 yards, but also ran for 26 yards on four attempts. He was sacked once, but also threw a touchdown pass.
Overall, he was inconsistent and looked very much like the developmental project he was billed as in the NFL Draft. It doesn’t help Jackson that Ravens’ incumbent starting quarterback Joe Flacco looked sharp and in control (albeit unspectacular) that night. When evaluating Jackson’s performance, Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh was complimentary of his attitude, despite his struggles.
There was talk going into preseason that Jackson could unseat Flacco for the starting job if he played well enough, but as the preseason goes on it is clear that Jackson isn’t trying to unseat Flacco. He is trying to prove he belongs. Not only that he belongs on the team, but as a quarterback at the NFL level. He may only get a few more chances this season. If Jackson can improve ever so steadily and if Flacco struggles, he will have that chance. He just has to make the most out of it.
The Indianapolis Colts host the San Fransisco 49ers in their third preseason game on Saturday, August 25th at 4:30 p.m.
The Baltimore Ravens travel to face the Miami Dolphins for their fourth preseason game on Saturday, August 25th at 7:00 p.m.