Hot take: I'm not ready to jump off the Lamar Jackson train.
To be sure, the 25-year-old Baltimore Ravens quarterback has made some critical errors this season. And those errors have come late in games, as we saw Sunday when he threw an interception and lost a fumble against the New York Giants that effectively sealed Baltimore's 24-20 loss.
Here's the good news: During the first three quarters of games this season, Jackson's QBR (64.1) ranks fifth in the NFL. He's been magical at extending plays and dazzling with a bevy of big-time throws.
"The good version of Lamar is still a great player," an NFL scout told me. "He's beating teams earlier in games and then making a few key mistakes that have cost them."
Jackson's fourth-quarter QBR of 28.0 slots him 29th in the league, and four of his six interceptions have come in the fourth quarter. While the cynic might say Jackson has played too much football to excuse such mistakes, the optimist suggests taking a broader view of the current situation.
Case in point: The 2019 MVP hasn't played a single game this season with his No. 1 wide receiver (Rashod Bateman), No. 1 running back (J.K. Dobbins), and All-Pro left tackle (Ronnie Stanley) all in the lineup. The lack of synergy has compromised the Ravens at the worst moments, such as when Jackson forces plays or his receivers fail him.
"You have to catch them, that's your job," head coach John Harbaugh said following the Giants game. "Those guys are catching balls in practice. You have to make those catches in a game when it counts, right? No doubt. They know that."
On the other side of the ball, the Ravens - still tied for first place with the Bengals in the AFC North at 3-3 - have surrendered 552 yards and six touchdowns through the air in the fourth quarter.