The Giants’ reward for beating Aaron Rodgers is a visit from Lamar Jackson.
“It’s like going from playing Steph Curry to LeBron James,” Giants outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins said Friday.
The Giants (4-1) would like to think their familiarity with Jackson is to their advantage when the Ravens (3-2) arrive at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
Giants defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale and Wilkins both were on the Ravens’ coaching staff, facing Jackson daily in practices the past four years.
That could mean they know how to attack him. Or it could mean they’re in for their first, bitter taste of the real thing.
“All those times we were going against him [in practice] and a guy said, ‘Oh, I got him,’ because you’ve got to stay away from the quarterback?” Martindale said. “We’re going to find that out on Sunday, whether or not they got him.”
There is no one else in the NFL like Jackson. He’s lightning fast. He’s slippery. He can throw the ball downfield. Every play can be a big play.
He won the MVP award in 2019, one year after the entire league (including the Ravens) passed on him in the top 31 picks of the 2018 NFL Draft’s first round.
This year, he’s already over 1,000 yards passing. His 374 rushing yards rank 10th in the league among all players. And Giants coach Brian Daboll said the big number that jumps out at him is Jackson’s career wins and losses as a starter: 40-14-0.
“Look at his record, that’s first and foremost as a quarterback, I think,” Daboll said. “He hasn’t had many losses. He knows how to win.”
Ravens defensive lineman Calais Campbell said Baltimore is still running a similar system to Martindale’s under new DC Mike McDonald. So Campbell was excited about what firepower Jackson can unleash against a familiar defense.
“I can’t wait to see what Lamar does,” Campbell said. “In practice, we go against him a lot, and there are days when he dominates us, and there are days when we dominate. So I think he knows the defense very well, and I think that should, hopefully, give us some kind of advantage. We’ll see.”
Martindale’s Giants rank second in the NFL with a 40% blitz rate on dropbacks. One of Jackson’s weaknesses in previous years was his performance against the blitz. So the Giants hope their pressure bursts Baltimore’s pipes.
This season, however, Jackson has been the NFL’s third-best quarterback when facing five or more pass rushers, throwing seven TDs and only one interception against the blitz, according to NFL NextGen Stats.
Only the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes has a better TD-to-INT ratio (9-0) against pressure.
A lot of current Giants players also fell victim to Jackson in a 27-13 road loss, when Baltimore bullied them off the ball for 249 rushing yards. So they’ve seen how dangerous he is for themselves.
“In my eyes, he’s the best quarterback in the league,” Giants safety Julian Love said. “It’s going to take all of us to account for him, and they have some serious weapons around him.”
Jackson, 25, admitted Martindale’s pressure schemes are unpredictable.
“Ain’t no telling,” Jackson said this week. “Coach ‘Wink’ is known for exotic blitzes and just doing his thing. Shoutout to Coach ‘Wink.’”
The Giants, for their part, are not intimidated even though they respect Jackson’s talent.
Daboll’s bunch is looking to become the first Giants team to get four wins in a five-game stretch since 2016. They’re seeking the franchise’s first three-game win streak since Weeks 9-13 of 2020.
Spirits are high in East Rutherford, N.J., coming back from London with a win.
“It’s great being able to walk in the building and there’s a different feeling,” special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said. “You don’t feel like there’s a dark cloud over your head every time you walk in.”
Baltimore also is without injured top receiver Rashod Bateman. So tight end Mark Andrews is his clear primary weapon. And Jackson managed only 19 points and 232 yards on his own in last week’s 2-point win over the Bengals.
That’s a bit less daunting than Jackson’s 437 yards (318 passing, 119 rushing) and four total TDs in Baltimore’s 42-38 Week 2 loss to the Dolphins.
Not that this Giants team could ever underestimate Jackson. They know him too well, especially Martindale and Wilkins, who saw the Ravens quarterback flourish up close.
“He took command so early in his time there,” Wilkins said of Jackson’s impact in Baltimore. “He was drafted in 2018. My son was born in 2018. I mean, one of the first words he could say was ‘Lamar.’ He’s got all the action figures, the bobbleheads and the jersey.
“He still loves Lamar,” Wilkins said with a smile. “But he’s all in on the Giants.”