Steelers have wrecked Ravens QB Lamar Jackson since he entered the NFL
By Tommy Jaggi
Lamar Jackson has an unbelievable record as a starting quarterback for the Ravens, but here’s why the Steelers have wrecked him in this rivalry so far.
When the Pittsburgh Steelers passed on Lamar Jackson with the 28th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft only to see him go two picks later to the Baltimore Ravens, I was thoroughly disappointed. Jackson was one of the best dual-threat prospects I had ever graded and I knew he was going to do good things in the AFC North.
Through his first four NFL seasons, Jackson has an eye-popping record of 37-11 as the Ravens starting quarterback (77 percent win rate). While the 24-year-old quarterback has beaten up on most of the league early in his career, he hasn’t found nearly as much success against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In fact, I would go as far as to say that Jackson has been downright bad when facing Keith Butler’s defense. According to Pro Football Reference, Jackson has 4 touchdowns and 6 interceptions for a 67.4 passer rating when playing Pittsburgh. He also completes just 59.6 percent of his passes, has been sacked a whopping 16 times, and has coughed the ball up 6 times without scoring a single rushing touchdown.
How have the Steelers found more success than any team in the league against arguably the greatest rushing quarterback of all time? It starts with T.J. Watt.
Steelers Watt is the kryptonite to Jackson
T.J. Watt isn’t going to be able to beat Lamar Jackson in a foot race. There are very few defenders who can — regardless of position. However, Watt seems to have the ability to read Lamar Jackson’s mind when he plays the Ravens.
I went back and watched every snap of T.J. Watt against Baltimore, and very rarely was he ever caught off position. In fact, he seemed to take the perfect route to Lamar on just about every play. In addition, he did a great job containing his edge and not letting Jackson escape for big running lanes outside of him.
Watt’s consistent ability to force Jackson to take a different path has made him quite uncomfortable in the pocket when playing against the Steelers. It also doesn’t help the young quarterback’s confidence when he is routinely being hit by one of the best defenders in football.
In Week 13 alone, Watt earned a whopping 11 pressures when rushing the quarterback, via Pro Football Focus. He was credited for sacking Lamar Jackson 3.5 times and hitting him 6 times in all. Watt also deserves credit for forcing Lamar to step up and get sacked by one of his teammates. By the end of the night, Jackson had been sacked 7 times and knocked down 10 times.
Obviously, football is a team game, and there are plenty of other players who deserve credit for slowing down Jackson on the ground and through the air. Cameron Heyward, Chris Wormly, and Alex Highsmith deserve a lot of credit as well.
However, when it comes down to it. T.J. Watt always seems to have a monster game against Lamar Jackson, and I’m not sure if that’s about to change any time soon.