THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Lamar Jackson's ability to make big plays with both his arm and his legs makes him more difficult to contain than most at his position, especially this season.
How difficult, exactly?
Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips called the Ravens quarterback "this era's Michael Vick. Michael Vick-plus."
Rams quarterback John Wolford, tasked with playing the role of Jackson against their first team defense in practice this week, said he doesn't think they've ever seen someone like him who can excel in both areas as well as he does.
And not one inch of the field is safe.
"The ability for the defense to have to defend every blade of grass, they make you do that every single play," Wolford told theRams.com after practice Wednesday. "(Head coach) Sean (McVay) said it today, normally you're playing 11 on 10, right? You don't account for the quarterback in the run game. It's 11 on 11, so one missed tackle, and sh--, he's gone."
Los Angeles' defense is hoping to avoid that same scene which has played out multiple times for opposing teams through the first 11 weeks of the season.
Entering Week 12, Jackson has been sacked only 18 times across 10 games, a credit to his escapability, ability to get rid of the ball quickly as a passer and Baltimore's offensive line. He's avoided 29 tackles after a rush this season, according to scouting service Pro Football Focus, most of any QB by 16.
Rams DT Aaron Donald said he's not surprised opposing defenders haven't been able to get a clean hit on him.
"Nah. You see how he's moving? He's just making plays," Donald said. "The way he moves, the things he can do, it's just pretty special. We've just got to try to find a way get him down."
As for that lofty comparison, Phillips can back it up because he has perspective on Jackson's talent few other coaches do, having served as the Falcons' defensive coordinator in Vick's second and third seasons in Atlanta.
“Pretty similar in a lot of ways, certainly," Phillips said. "Both of them (Jackson and Vick) are great runners. Mike was similar that he didn’t throw many interceptions and he had that flick of the wrist that he could throw the ball downfield."
Both Phillips and Donald cited execution as being key to stopping the Jackson-led Ravens offense.
"You got to really tackle well against these people and that’s easier said than done," Phillips said. "We’ve seen a lot of missed tackles, especially on the quarterback.”
In an Instagram post, Rams CB Jalen Ramsey shared photos of his postgame encounter with Vick – coincidentally a guest at last Sunday's game against the Bears – and posted the following question as his caption:
"Soo uhh @mikevick how would you stop someone like … well kinda like yourself but the 2019 version?? I need tips for the game."
"Tough question bruh... see the reality is this... Lamar is Mike Vick 2019, but with an offense built around his skill, which makes it hard to say. I wouldn't know what to do against a guy kinda like myself. 😂