As Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson continues to wreak havoc as a running back, the Ravens are concerned about teams trying to wreak havoc on him, personally.
(Jackson wasn’t willing to go that far; “They’re trying to make a tackle and I’m trying to make them miss,” he said, via Hensley.)
Quarterbacks have extension protections when behind the line of scrimmage. Once they become runners, all protections unique to quarterbacks evaporate. At that point, a running quarterback literally becomes a running back, with any and all types of hits fair game — except an opponent lowering his helmet to initiate contact, a protection that all applies to all players.
It’s a fine line, a delicate balance. But until the rules are changed to provide greater protections for running backs or quarterbacks who choose to run, they are fair game for legal hits to the legs, or any other body part. And if the quarterback wants to avoid that type of hit, the quarterback needs to stay behind the line of scrimmage, where he enjoys maximum protection.
For defenses, the message is obvious, albeit largely unspoken in the post-Bountygate NFL: If the most important player on the field chooses to abandon the special protections given to the most important player on the field, he does so at his own risk. It’s an important point to remember as the Ravens prepare to face the Jets, whose defense is coordinated by Gregg Williams, the godfather of the now-defunct bounty programs that were once a common part of NFL culture.