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Harbaugh expects 'better' Lamar Jackson in 2019

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The Baltimore Ravens know Lamar Jackson must improve as a passer to make a leap in Year 2.

Speaking Friday, coach John Harbaugh said Jackson's offseason focus would be on improving as a pocket passer.

"Yes, I do know what his plans are," Harbaugh said when asked if the signal-caller is planning to work with a QB guru in the offseason. "I think we're still formulating those and we don't do it, he does it. It's his responsibility to do it, per rules, and that's the way it should be. Of course, we have thoughts on it and advice and whatnot. He's gonna work at it. He's going to work at it really hard. Who he works with, where he works with, I'll leave that to him to answer if he wants to answer. I'm quite sure that he'll be working at it really hard and he already is.

"Throughout the course of the offseason he's gonna throw the ball a lot. He's gonna have his receivers and throw to them, he's already told me that. All those other things, he should come back, I expect him to come back a better quarterback, skill-wise, then he was when he left and he's determined to do that."

After Jackson took over down the stretch, the Ravens employed a ground-heavy approach that took advantage of the quarterback's dynamic running ability, bludgeoning defenses with read-options and QB scrambles.

The run-first approach hit a brick wall in Baltimore's Wild Card loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. With the ground game mostly stymied, Jackson struggled as a passer, compiling a zero passer rating in the first half. While Jackson helped get the Ravens back into the tilt at the end, his passing inefficiency, fumbling issues and sacks ultimately cost Baltimore in the playoffs.

This offseason, Jackson will focus on his pocket presence, footwork, ability to read defenses, and downfield throws. As a rookie, Jackson particularly struggled making throws outside the numbers. In the regular season, Jackson had the third-lowest passer rating (59.2) outside the numbers among 38 QBs with at least 150 pass attempts.

Harbaugh noted that the Ravens would continue to focus on the running attack -- part of the reason for the change in offensive coordinators to Greg Roman -- but need Jackson to improve as a passer to take the next step.

"We're building the offense from the ground up this year," Harbaugh said. "That's what's exciting. We'll see what comes of it."

With the Ravens parting ways with Joe Flacco this offseason, Baltimore will look for a veteran backup behind Jackson. Harbaugh said the team would like a backup with similar dual-threat traits as Jackson, so the offense wouldn't need to change much in event of an injury to the young signal-caller. Harbaugh specifically mentioned Robert Griffin III -- who spent the year in Baltimore -- and former Ravens QB Tyrod Taylor as potential options.

"I would probably lean toward the backup being similar to Lamar, that's what I would hope we would be able to do," Harbaugh said. "Obviously, RG3 is a great option there. I've seen something written about Tyrod, I don't know what Tyrod's gonna be wanting to do, but, and there are others out there like that who can do those things."

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