Lamar Jackson played significantly better against the Lions in Week 3 than you may think

The Ravens' offense wasn't productive on Sunday, but the advanced metrics suggest that QB Lamar Jackson played better than you might think.

It took a record-breaking field goal from Justin Tucker to earn the Baltimore Ravens a victory against the still-winless Detroit Lions last Sunday. Many will blame a lackluster offensive performance on the Ravens’ star QB, Lamar Jackson. However, there was more to Jackson’s performance than initially meets the eye.

Lamar Jackson didn’t look like his usual self against Detroit

Looking at Jackson’s box score, it seems clear that the game against the Lions wasn’t the Ravens QB’s best effort. Through the air, he totaled 287 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Those aren’t awful statistics, but they aren’t spectacular either.

Meanwhile, the normally electric Jackson totaled just 58 yards on the ground, a meager effort by his standards.

As a result, Baltimore scored just 19 points against a Lions defense that had allowed 76 points across their first two games.

However, box score statistics don’t always tell the full story of a player’s performance. And in Jackson’s case, the advanced metrics suggest that he did far more for Baltimore’s offense than you might expect.

Lamar Jackson’s advanced metrics were excellent

Although Jackson’s traditional statistics don’t exactly jump off the page, the advanced metrics paint him in a far more positive light. To explain what I mean, let’s turn to the Offensive Value Metric (OVM).

The OVM is a grading system created by the (Bx) Movement to evaluate players based on how much they contributed to the creation of their statistics, rather than the statistics themselves. For quarterbacks, it measures how effective they were when passing the ball.

On Sunday against the Lions, Jackson earned a grade of 44.12. That was the highest grade earned by any quarterback last week and one of the highest grades of Jackson’s entire career.

A grade that high suggests that, despite Baltimore’s overall lackluster offensive performance, their QB put together an excellent passing performance.

Why was Lamar Jackson’s OVM grade so high?

Jackson’s excellent OVM grade was the result of numerous factors. Perhaps the most important was how aggressively he pushed the ball downfield.

Across his 31 pass attempts, he averaged 19.3 air yards. That number dipped to a still-impressive 14.8 yards on his completions. Both of those numbers led the week by about 7 yards.

Those statistics look even more impressive when you compare them to what Jackson earned the week before. In Week 2, he averaged 9.7 yards of distance on all his attempts and 6.8 yards on his completions.

Of course, throwing deep passes is only impressive if you complete them, and Jackson earned one of Week 3’s worst completion percentages (51.6%). However, that number isn’t as bad as it might appear. According to the NFL’s projections, Jackson’s percentage was higher than expected by 6.3%.

In other words, Jackson was attempting difficult passes all game and was completing them at a higher rate than he should have.

While he threw the deep ball well on Sunday, that doesn’t seem to be a good strategy for the Ravens

Although Jackson threw the ball downfield effectively, Baltimore clearly still struggled offensively. The fact of the matter is, their offense is built to be focused around their rushing attack. The 116 yards they earned on Sunday simply wasn’t enough.

The team has significant injuries at running back, but they have to get more from the ground game if they want to win against more dangerous opponents than the hapless Lions.

That said, it is somewhat encouraging that Jackson is capable of such an effective passing performance. If he can maintain that level of play while the team gets back to dominating on the ground, the Ravens might actually make a deep playoff run.

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