Harbaugh defends Jackson’s playoff failure

NFL

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended Lamar Jackson’s playoff failure on Friday, highlighting the progress 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 most valuable player after becoming the first player to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. But he wasn’t the same dominating force in Saturday’s 28-12 divisional playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans, throwing two interceptions and fumbling once.

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

Asked if Jackson has a tendency to be too self-critical, Harbaugh said, “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” on Wednesday. Harbaugh asked Jackson where he needs to improve.

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

At the start of the season, the biggest question surrounding the Ravens was whether Jackson could become a legitimate NFL passer. He led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes and finished third in passer rating (113.3).

Last year, Harbaugh acknowledged that some receivers might not be excited to play in Baltimore’s offense. Does he anticipate 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 absolutely believe players are going to be very excited to be here and part of this offense.”

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