Lamar Jackson is in Orlando this week, enjoying the camaraderie of the Pro Bowl.
But earlier this month he didn’t much feel like leaving the house.
‘I was hurt. I was depressed.’
Jackson, the odds-on favorite to be named the Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player at NFL Honors on February 1, told Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic during Pro Bowl practices that he pulled back from the world for a little bit after the Baltimore Ravens divisional round loss to the Tennessee Titans.
“I didn’t leave my room, to be honest,” Jackson said. “I wasn’t frustrated. I was hurt. I was depressed. It was like, ‘I don’t even want to go outside right now. I’m not happy right now.’ There was nothing to celebrate.”
The Ravens finished the regular season with the best record in the NFL, a sparkling 14-2 and thus had a bye for wildcard weekend. In their first playoff game, home against the Titans, they stumbled and were knocked out of the postseason, 28-12.
As Baltimore racked up wins and Jackson built his case for MVP, the young quarterback believed there was only one way the season could end: in his native South Florida, at Super Bowl LIV.
But that’s not how things played out.
“We didn’t play ball how we should have, how we had been playing ball all year,” Jackson said. “We didn’t hit them in the mouth like we should have. We didn’t bounce back fast enough. Time ran out and we didn’t score enough points. Next time out, we’ve got to put points up on the board.”
This week, as AFC and NFC Pro Bowlers have been practicing at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World, Jackson, a first-timer, has seemingly been soaking it all in.
His Twitter feed is flush with re-tweets from the Ravens and others with pictures from not just his experience but teammates’ as well. On Wednesday, Baltimore’s director of PR posted two pictures of Jackson, wearing a Ravens bucket hat, sitting on the grass talking to two young microphone-wielding “reporters.”
He’s garnered a lot of attention of course, and has been smiling non-stop.
“I’m starstruck,” Jackson said. “But at the same time, I’m having fun.”
Drew Brees’ son Baylen couldn’t wait to meet Jackson; older players were seeking him out, too.
“It’s unbelievable to me. I’m just turning 23. These are the guys I want to meet. I want to take pictures with these guys and they’re beating me to the punch. It’s dope, man,” he said.
Not surprisingly, Jackson placed the blame for the loss to Tennessee on his own shoulders.
“I need to get better myself. I don’t put nothing on my teammates,” he said. “We all just have to do our part. My job was to help my team, get my team in the red zone and score points. I didn’t do my job. We just got to move on. All season we were doing that. We’d drive down into the red zone and we’d put up points. For that game, we didn’t. We can’t put that on the defense. [Tennessee] only scored like 28 points. We should score more points than that.”
As if it wasn’t clear from his statement that he was hurt and depressed, Jackson takes losses very hard. With the Ravens now 0-2 in the postseason in his time as starter, he said he won’t pay attention to the outside scrutiny. It sounds like he does enough of that on his own.
“I feel like the loss was a lesson, just like the playoff loss my rookie year,” Jackson said. “We got better off that, so we just are going to come back. We’re going to get to the playoffs again and the next time is going to be totally different.”
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