Jackson said the game has slowed down for him. He’s always been able to see the field well, but now he’s better able to read defenses and predict what’s going to happen.
“Even with our defense, last year, our defense was flying around. My head was spinning,” Jackson said. “I didn’t know where the guys were coming from, blitzes. The coaches were like, ‘Man, you have to learn how to flip the jets,’ and stuff like that. But this year, I’ve just been sitting back, been a lot [more] comfortable, dialed in.”
Head Coach John Harbaugh explained quarterbacks’ Year 1 to Year 2 jumps as probably being the result of more prepared than they used to. High school and college offenses throw the ball so much more that players have a “better foundation under them already.” Beyond that, it’s getting accustomed to the playmakers around them, what defenses are trying to do and the speed of the game.
Jackson said his first game as a starter last year, in Week 11 against the Cincinnati Bengals, was eye-opening to him about the speed of the game. His mindset is different now. Going into the game, he’s got the basics down cold, he said. So what’s his focus now?
“Making great passes, trying to catch my receivers in stride,” Jackson said. “I’m trying to score a lot of touchdowns this year, finishing in the red zone, because we’ll drive the ball downfield and won’t finish. That was a big key for me this year.”