Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian — builder of the Buffalo Bills teams who lost four straight Super Bowls, brief overseer of Carolina Panthers expansion era, big-brained genius who drafted Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf — opined that when Lamar Jackson entered the NFL Draft, he’d be better off playing wide receiver as a professional.
I don’t want to 100% discredit Polian’s bust in Canton in spite of the cheeky lede I just wrote, but maybe the modern game has passed over this old head. When you have that big of an ego and have made so many correct predictions in the past, I get why you’d refuse to admit defeat when you’re out of your depth. Not many people had Lamar as a surefire franchise quarterback. Polian’s opinion had no small influence on Lamar sliding all the way to 32nd in the draft, where the Baltimore Ravens gladly scooped him up.
With Lamar on the brink of his second league MVP award as a quarterback, Polian is at it again. This segment from Sirius XM NFL Radio just goes to show that Polian doesn’t know ball anymore in the year 2024, or he’s just a stubborn old man who refuses to move off an all-time disaster of a take.
Bill Polian on how to stop Lamar Jackson:
“You have to tell the rushers that they’re not there to sack him, they’re there to keep him in the pocket and make him throw the ball.”
That’s right. Allegedly, the best chance a defense has at stopping Lamar Jackson is when he’s confined to the pocket. The numbers didn’t support this even dating back to last season, when Lamar was still stuck in a sh*tty passing scheme masterminded by Greg Roman. Ben Roethlisberger, who set the rival Pittsburgh Steelers franchise back at least a few years, tried to take a shot at Lamar. Not smart.
ESPN has passer rating in the pocket dating back to 2009.
Lamar Jackson pocket passer rating, 2018-22: 97.9 Ben Roethlisberger pocket passer rating, 2009-21: 94.2
Huh. interesting that Baltimore happens to be the AFC’s No. 1 seed and is a double-digit favorite against the Houston Texans on Saturday. Weird how that works.
Some lady on Fox Sports Radio a while back asserted that Lamar wasn’t “quarterbacky” enough, only to watch him eviscerate the Miami Dolphins in a game that had huge implications for the No. 1 seed. Polian clearly shared that opinion prior to the 2018 NFL Draft. Tough look for both of them, especially when you look at the advanced numbers on what Lamar did to the Fins’ hapless secondary.
All of this can be true, AND I can also say that Lamar has a postseason passer rating of 68.3 in four starts. That needs to improve in drastic fashion beginning on Saturday if lazy takes like that of Polian’s aren’t going to be validated in the slightest.
Nobody has more pressure on them in the Divisional Round than Lamar Jackson. Let’s see how he responds. If he picks Houston apart, Polian may want to rethink this whole thing. It’s never too late to admit defeat, Bill! OK for him in this particular situation, never mind, it probably is.