Lamar Jackson’s first contact with the Ravens came at the NFL Scouting Combine and Ravens Quarterbacks Coach James Urban.
Urban came up to Jackson, introduced himself, and told him about how he coached Michael Vick during their time in Philadelphia.
That must have been music to Jackson’s ears.
Jackson grew up modeling his game after the dynamic dual-threat quarterback, starting with, of all things, video games.
“My first Madden game was 2003, but I played with Michael Vick [in] 2004, and he was out of control,” Jackson said with a chuckle.
“Just watching him on a video game and watching him on TV and seeing what he did, what he brought to the table with his team, winning games for Atlanta, it was like, ‘Man, I want to do some of the things he did on the field.’”
Jackson would take what he saw on TV and in his video games and try to pull off the same moves on his youth football teams. Luckily, Jackson had the athleticism to do it.
When he got to college, Jackson filled highlight reels just the way Vick did 16 years earlier. In fact, he did it even better.
In Jackson’s final two seasons (2016-2017), he threw for more than 3,500 yards each year and tossed 57 touchdowns to 19 interceptions. He had a 147.7 quarterback rating and 57 percent completion rate. Jackson also ran for 3,172 yards and 39 touchdowns.
In Vick’s two seasons (1999-2000), he threw for a combined 3,299 yards. He tossed 21 touchdowns to 11 interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 149.3 and 56 percent completion rate. Vick ran for 1,299 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Vick saw Louisville blow out No. 2-ranked Florida State in 2016, when Jackson threw one touchdown and ran for four more. Jackson threw for 216 yards and ran for 146, placing himself squarely in contention for the Heisman Trophy, which he later won.
“I could not believe what I had seen. I could not believe the things he was able to do,” Vick told NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah. “It was a spitting image of me.”
Vick was the first-overall pick of the Atlanta Falcons in the 2001 NFL Draft. He became the starter in Week 4, but was limited to just eight games.
Vick broke out the following season, earning a Pro Bowl invitation after throwing for 2,936 yards and running for 777 more with 25 touchdowns. He went to two more Pro Bowls with the Falcons in 2004 and 2005 before a two-year suspension for his role in a dog fighting operation.
After his release from prison, Vick signed with the Philadelphia Eagles just before the start of the 2009 season. Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was running the Eagles offense. Urban was Philadelphia’s quarterbacks coach.
The two went to work with Vick to get him back up to speed and improve on his passing ability. It didn’t take long.
In 2010, Vick had the best statistical year of his career, throwing for 3,018 yards with 21 touchdowns while running for 676 yards and nine scores. His quarterback rating of 100.2 was a career-high. He had improved as a pure passer, but still had his playmaking style as a runner.
Asked whether his experience with Vick will play into how he coaches Jackson, Mornhinweg indicated that he’ll take a similar approach of drilling into the basic fundamentals first.
“This first thing – much like we did with Mike – [is] play the quarterback position,” Mornhinweg said. “Learn how to play the quarterback position like we play the quarterback position here.”
There are those who doubt that Jackson can turn into a top-notch NFL quarterback. During the pre-draft process, one offensive coordinator (who remained nameless) told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero this:
"He's an awesome athlete. He will not be able to play (quarterback) in this league, mark my words. When he throws, he hopes."
Jackson responded by saying, “Hope for 69 I think I threw? That’s a lot of hope.”
After being drafted, Jackson said he turns such haters into motivation.
“Whatever [doubt] teams give me, I’m going to prove them wrong, prove the doubters wrong,” he said. “I’m going to earn the respect from my teammates and my coaches.”
Count Vick among the believers.
“If I was the GM, I would draft him – whether it’s the first round or fourth round,” Vick said before the draft. “You look at all the quarterbacks coming out of the draft, they’re all projects. Nobody is guaranteed to do anything.”
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