John Harbaugh defends leaving in Lamar Jackson into fourth quarter

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Adrian Clayborn sacked Lamar Jackson with less than nine minutes remaining Sunday. The Browns defensive lineman wrapped up the Ravens quarterback’s left leg and awkwardly dragged him down.

Why, many wondered on social media, was Jackson still in the game with the Ravens up by 32?

That was a question posed to coach John Harbaugh on Monday, and he didn’t seem to appreciate the second-guessing.

“We’re not going to just react to every criticism,” Harbaugh said, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN. “We could take him out of the game at halftime, too. That might keep him safer, too. But we’re not going to do that.”

The Ravens pulled Jackson on their next possession, with 4:05 remaining, as Robert Griffin III mopped up. In 2019, Jackson sat out the entire fourth quarter of two games and played half of the fourth quarter in two other games.

“A lot of things can happen. I’ve seen teams come back in the fourth quarter,” Harbaugh said. “It’s the first game of the season. We’re trying to work on things as well. It’s just a criticism that you guys can keep asking me about and I’m going to keep telling you the same thing. I think if you study football and look at what other teams do, you’ll see that people don’t do that and there’s a reason for it. It’s not because we want to see somebody get hurt. Take a look at Seattle with Russell Wilson. I would encourage you to do your homework on that.”

All’s well that ends well.

Eleven times last season in games that didn’t involve the Ravens, a team held a lead of 30 or more points. Only two of those starting quarterbacks stood on the sideline for the entire fourth quarter, and none of the other nine were removed until 6 1/2 minutes or less was left in the game, per Hensley.

“Ten minutes left? Nah, I don’t think so,” Harbaugh said of pulling Jackson a possession earlier than he did. “It’s the National Football League. You look around the league and you’ll see not too many people are taking their quarterbacks out with 10 minutes left in the game in the National Football League. That’s historically true.”

9 responses to “John Harbaugh defends leaving in Lamar Jackson into fourth quarter

  1. There’s been a lot of second guessing concerning Jim Harbaugh and Lamar Jackson over the last 3 years, and Harbaugh has been right every time. Go back and read some of the nonsense that was written. How on earth does anyone expect Harbaugh to take these people seriously? Harbaugh is always cool and calm, and very respectful of the media. He’s really a class act. A great coach, too.

  2. Harbs can be a real bullhead sometimes. Yeah, lots of teams leave their starting QB in the game that’s a rout, but consider these circumstances: He leaves Lamar in the game, WITH a 32 point lead, AND his starting left tackle (all Pro Ronnie Stanley) out with an injury, AND running plays with an open, unprotected backfield, and he wonders why people question his decision? If that’s the case, then he should order Gregg Roman to run every play call down to the last second and make sure it’s a (non-Lamar) running play.

  3. It’s a fair question. They were comfortably ahead so why risk getting the most important player on your offense injured in garbage time. If he gets hurt their offense is in trouble.

  4. Hey a Steelers fan here, and this is seriously nit picky criticism. Nobody had a preseason, so like everyone else they probably still had some things to work on. Was a comeback by the Browns unlikely? Well yeah, as always just because they’re the Browns. Come on now though, this is still just game 1 for everybody.

    Hey I have an idea though! The best way to keep Jackson healthy is to never play him at all! Yes please do that. Starting with game one against Pittsburgh! Thanks 😆

  5. Don’t really care what the Ravens do with Jackson but I’m really hoping that the Browns will be cautious going forward and start pulling Mayfield…like in the first 5 minutes of every game please.

    We don’t want him to get hurt.

  6. Harbaugh’s answer was being kind to the Browns. He didn’t actually expect them to come back, he wanted more reps for the starters. Can’t blame him. When the Ravens get into a close game they’ll need to play hard for four full quarters.

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