Lamar Jackson’s prime-time challenge: Beat a top-10 defense

Jackson has played a handful of the worst defenses in the NFL, a near-perfect initiation for the No. 32 overall pick. That fortuitous streak ends Saturday night, when Jackson faces the Los Angeles Chargers and his first top-10 defense.

“I feel like that’s going to be the fastest team we face all season,” Jackson said. “All 11 to the ball at all times. They’re flying around, making plays [and] making turnovers. They’re a good defense.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Jackson and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg both praised the Los Angeles defense. But neither would go as far as to say this is the best defense Jackson has faced.2

The Chargers’ defense can cause trouble, with pass-rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa crashing the edges and rookie Derwin James running around to make plays from five different positions. Los Angeles ranks No. 8 in fewest yards allowed and has been especially strong against the run, holding teams to 65 or fewer rushing yards in three of the past four games.

In his first five starts, Jackson took advantage of a quirky early span of playing the Cincinnati Bengals (ranked No. 32 in defense), Oakland Raiders (No. 26), Atlanta Falcons (No. 24), Kansas City Chiefs (No. 31) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 28). The odds of playing a bottom-24 defense in a five-game stretch is 11.3 percent, according to ESPN Analytics.

Jackson’s 427 yards rushing are 106 more than any other quarterback in his first five starts in the Super Bowl era. As Baltimore’s top playmaker, Jackson has produced 41 rushes reaching 15 miles per hour, according to NFL Next Gen Stats since Week 15 (the next-closest quarterback is Josh Allen with 22).nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“Lamar can throw it like crazy, too, but he can blink and he’s running 70 yards,” Chargers safety Adrian Phillips said. “So throughout the week, we’ll have drills that focus on keeping the quarterback in the pocket and not letting him get out. But he’s a great athlete. He’s gonna get out. We just have to make sure that when he does, we get him on the ground quick.”

The Chargers have held the top running quarterbacks in check this season. Of the top eight quarterbacks in rushing yards, Los Angeles has faced three of them (Allen, Marcus Mariota and Russell Wilson), limiting each one under 45 yards rushing.

Jackson is averaging nearly double that (85.4) as a starter, but the Chargers benefit from having eight days to break down film of a rushing scheme that no defense has been able to completely shut down.