Resting Lamar Jackson: A Prudent Decision or a Risky Move?

Resting Lamar Jackson: A Prudent Decision or a Risky Move?

The Baltimore Ravens have made a familiar decision, opting to rest Lamar Jackson in the regular-season finale, just as they did in 2019. Despite being the front-runner for the NFL Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, Jackson will have a significant break of at least 19 days before suiting up for the AFC divisional round. This move was announced by Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who confirmed that Jackson would not play against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday. It is worth noting that this game holds no playoff implications for Baltimore, who has already clinched the AFC’s No. 1 seed and a first-round bye.

Baltimore’s decision to rest Jackson echoes the strategy employed by the team in 2019, where they also secured the top seed in the AFC prior to the regular-season finale. Jackson, along with six other starters, was rested in that contest. However, the long layoff seemed to have a detrimental effect as the Ravens suffered a surprising 28-12 upset loss to the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round. Jackson struggled, throwing for just 365 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. The offense as a whole was held to a season-low in points, leaving many to question the wisdom of resting key players.

The decision to rest Jackson is, undoubtedly, motivated by concerns over his health and safety. Jackson has previously had his seasons cut short due to late-season injuries, including an ankle injury in 2021 and a sprained knee in 2022. Given these past experiences, it is understandable that Harbaugh would prioritize Jackson’s long-term well-being over short-term success. By giving Jackson a significant break, the Ravens hope to reduce the risk of injury and ensure his availability for the crucial playoff games ahead.

While Jackson is widely regarded as the best player on the NFL’s best team, his chances of winning the MVP award this season may face statistical obstacles. Historically, no quarterback has won the MVP when ranking outside the top 10 in both passing yards and touchdown passes. Jackson currently ranks 14th in passing yards, with 3,678 yards, and 10th in touchdown passes, with 24. Despite these numbers, Jackson has been sensational during Baltimore’s six-game winning streak, throwing 14 touchdown passes and only two interceptions, averaging 250.2 yards passing and 56.7 yards rushing with a passer rating of 109.8.

The decision to rest Jackson ultimately hinges on the balance between the potential benefits and risks. Supporters argue that the time off will allow Jackson to rest and recharge, ensuring he is in peak form for the playoffs. Critics, however, point to the 2019 playoffs and the potential rustiness that may result from an extended break. The Ravens will be hoping that backup quarterback Tyler Huntley can step up in Jackson’s absence and deliver a solid performance against the Steelers to alleviate concerns over the decision.

Resting Lamar Jackson in the regular-season finale is a strategic move designed to prioritize his health and ensure his availability for the playoffs. While there are risks associated with a long layoff, the Ravens are hopeful that history will not repeat itself as they aim for a deep playoff run. As the postseason unfolds, only time will tell whether this decision proves to be a prudent one or a risky gamble.

Sports

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