Ravens OC: Dangers of Jackson running are 'overrated'

The biggest critique most detractors have with athletic quarterbacks who use their legs to regularly harm defenses is the belief that the hits will take their toll and result in injuries.

Greg Roman, who takes over a Baltimore Ravens offense thrusting its weight fully behind run-first signal-caller Lamar Jackson, thinks the criticism of QBs getting hurt while running is overblown.

"I think it's a little overrated, the whole danger thing," Roman said this week, via The Baltimore Sun. "Why? Because, and this is empirical data here, over the years, you kind of realize that when a quarterback decides to run, he's in control. So now [if] he wants to slide, he can slide. If he wants to dive, he can dive, get out of bounds, all of those different things. He can get down, declare himself down.

"A lot of the time, the situations that [have] more danger are when he doesn't see what's coming -- my eyes are downfield, I'm standing stationary from the pocket, somebody is hitting me from the blind side. My experience, and I kind of learned this, is that when the quarterback takes the ball and starts to run, there's not a lot of danger involved in that relative to other situations."

While the sample size is small, the data backs up Roman's claim for the most part. Major injuries to quarterbacks generally happen in the flow of the game usually in the pocket or on a normal escape play, not a designed QB run. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers' or Redskins QB Alex Smith's injuries would be prime examples of such instances.

Of course, with few teams even putting their QBs in harm's way with consistent runs like the Ravens did with Jackson, the data feels incomplete. Even considering Cam Newton's career isn't a fair one-for-one comparison with Jackson given the completely different body compositions.

We can point to players like Russell Wilson, who never seems to take shots outside the pocket on runs given his uncanny ability to get down before contact, as an example of a mobile QB taking more punishment in the pocket than outside. We could also use Robert Griffin III in the inverse example as one of the worst sliding quarterbacks ever to hit a field.

Roman has as much experience as any modern coordinator working with mobile quarterbacks. From Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco to Tyrod Taylor in Buffalo. No Jackson in Baltimore.

The OC believes Jackson will learn from his rookie campaign when he should and should not take a chance that might lead to a big hit.

"Last year, for example, was a learning curve for him on how he would handle a [running] situation," Roman said. "'Do we really want to take those hits? Why would I cut back against the grain when I could take it out the front door into space?' All of those things started last year. ... I think you have to be very judicious on realizing the big picture."

The biggest picture for the Ravens starts with Jackson improving as a passer from Year 1 to Year 2. If Baltimore's passing game can improve, it will make the run-action that much more dangerous and help relieve some of the hits Jackson takes outside of the pocket.

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