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‘Lamar’s a driver’ – Harbaugh says Ravens woe does not erase Jackson achievements

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh says the team’s playoff heartache should not detract from Lamar Jackson’s achievements this season, pledging to hand the quarterback an even bigger role next year.

Jackson is the frontrunner to be named NFL MVP for the second time, having enjoyed a career-best season for passing yards (3,678) and completion rate (67.2%) in 2023.

Meanwhile, his 821 rushing yards in the regular season put him comfortably clear of the next-best quarterback (the Chicago Bears’ Justin Fields, 657) as he led the Ravens to a league-best 13-4 record.

However, Jackson struggled throughout last week’s AFC Championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs, committing two turnovers, including a costly fourth-quarter interception in the end zone, in a 17-10 defeat.

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That loss dropped Jackson’s playoff record to 2-4 and led to criticism of a player who made light work of the regular season, but Harbaugh says his accomplishments speak for themselves.

“Lamar Jackson is a phenomenal success,” Harbaugh said at Friday’s end-of-season news conference.

“He’s a phenomenal success as a football player. He is a phenomenal success as a person, as a leader, as a family man.

“In my opinion, there’s nobody better in this league, nobody better for the Baltimore Ravens and for this organization, for this city, and just from a historical perspective. I’m excited about the future.”

With Harbaugh’s wait for a second Super Bowl ring set to stretch into a 12th year, he plans to give Jackson an even greater role in the Baltimore offense in 2024.

The coach said Jackson will be involved in discussions about Baltimore’s offensive schemes, pass protections and routes as Todd Monken enters his second year as offensive coordinator.

“Lamar’s a driver. He’s got to be involved in the setup of the car even more,” Harbaugh said.

“Those are things that are on his mind, and those are things where he’s going to be involved with the staff, talking about them. I’m excited about that. He wants to do it, and he’s just into it, man.”

General manager Eric DeCosta also said Jackson would be invited to share his ideas on the team’s direction, adding: “He’s great about offering suggestions.

“I have a great relationship where we can exchange different ideas on personnel and things. He’s a huge fan of college football, and I appreciate his feedback.”

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