Although both of Oakland’s victories arrived through defeats of rookies, Baltimore presents a problem. Lamar Jackson remains a rookie. Yet, his skill set presents an abundance of issues, problems, and difficulties for the Raiders.
Primarily, if you watched the Ravens’ last game, you saw Lamar Jackson run wild. Granted, 27 carries for 117 yards may not seem like gamebreaking numbers, look deeper. First, what team trusts their quarterback to rush that many times? If you look at the coaching staff, one name should ring a bell. Greg Roman served as the offensive coordinator during their Super Bowl contending days with Colin Kaepernick. Roman, along with Marty Mornhinweg simplified the offense for Jackson. Sunday’s gameplan felt more like touch and feel, rather than heavy scheming. As a result, Jackson looked rather comfortable, allowing his skills to naturally move the game along. In the open field, Jackson presents a nightmare for the Raiders. On top of his foot speed, he brings a level of agility that will create space and separation downfield.
During any stretch of time in 2018, the Raiders struggled to field quality linebackers. From Derrick Johnson’s lost steps to late play arrival, Oakland could not get out of its own way. However, facing a team that wants to run the ball, and control the clock, the linebackers have the toughest job on the field. For the Raiders to win, or have a chance, they need to start Nicholas Morrow. No other linebacker can run as he can. Jackson, and by extension, Alex Collins will test the front seven. Morrow’s range and speed will help to slow Baltimore down.
For all of Jackson’s gifts with his legs, the Raiders cannot discount his arm. Jackson, as shown during his days at Louisville, owns a strong arm. Moreover, John Brown will attempt to stretch the defense vertically. In that case, the Raiders need to play within the construct of Guenther’s scheme and not veer too far in pursuit. Brown will fly past them and Jackson will attempt to locate him deep.
In essence, Lamar Jackson is not Michael Vick. Yet, for the Raiders, a mobile quarterback, facing a shaky defense feels like a recipe for disaster. However, the Raiders can win this game. If they do not overpursue, fall for play-action, and remain disciplined, this game gets closer.