The NFL is officially back, and while we usually don't get to see high-profile players get much playing time in the preseason, rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson had an entire half to himself in his first NFL game.
This game was important because Joe Flacco was inactive, and the No. 32 overall pick had a chance to push himself more into the quarterback debate with a good performance in the Hall of Fame Game, and overall, I think that's what he did.
On his first NFL play, Jackson used his best asset, his legs. He only picked up three yards, but notice how quickly he gets out of the pocket. It almost looked like a designed run, even though it wasn't.
The next drive, we see another run by Jackson, one of his longest of the night. What's impressive about this run is that he waited until he had gone through all of his reads before he took off. He waited a full three seconds after his drop back, going through his progressions and dodging a would-be sack by stepping up into the pocket before taking off and almost picking up the first down.
You have to admit, this play looked a little Mike Vick-ish.
We knew Jackson could run, but I was more interested in how he would pass in his first game. I liked this throw by the first-year quarterback on 3rd and 10, he was calm, cool and collected, moving to the right side of the field where his receiver was finishing his route.
Jackson doesn't get enough credit for how well he can read a defense, and he showcased that ability on this play.
Here in the red zone, Jackson showed no fear trying to thread the needle between three defenders. His fellow rookie Hayden Hurst was unable to make the catch, but drew a flag for unnecessary roughness, giving the Ravens 15 more yards.
A couple plays later, Jackson found Hurst for his first NFL touchdown.
It wasn't all rainbows and butterflies for Jackson in his NFL debut, he also threw an interception. In my opinion, this just had to do with Jackson's read on how fast the cornerback was closing in on his receiver. That NFL speed is going to take some time to get used to, just some necessary lumps you have to take as a young quarterback in the NFL.
Here's another example of Jackson running great play-action. Look at how the entire front seven is fooled, leaving Jackson alone to scamper for an easy nine yards. If I'm running the offense in Baltimore, I'm calling this play a lot in 2019.
Overall, Jackson had a decent first game. His stats weren't sexy, he was just 4-of-10 for 33 yards with a touchdown an interception, but his potential was evident, and that's what's sexy.
Ravens fans can't wait to get this kid on the field, and after Flacco throws that first interception at home, I guarantee you'll be able to hear the chant in M&T Bank Stadium.
“LUH-MAR JACKSON *CLAP* *CLAP* *CLAP-CLAP-CLAP*”