Rex Ryan: Anyone who criticizes Lamar Jackson now is 'absolute idiot'

Shalise Manza Young
Yahoo Sports Columnist

It’s been a long time since Rex Ryan wore Baltimore Ravens colors — he last coached for the franchise in 2008, but on Monday morning the longtime defensive coach went on the offensive for the Ravens’ young quarterback.

‘Anybody that criticizes Lamar Jackson is an absolute idiot’

Ryan is known for many things, chief among them his blunt manner.

It’s one of the reasons why he works well as a morning-show talking head: in a space that frowns on nuance and gray area, he is always black-and-white.

Rex Ryan thinks Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, right, is receiving too much criticism after the team's playoff loss. (AP/Julio Cortez)

During a discussion on ESPN’s “Get Up,” after fellow panelist Ryan Clark noted Lamar Jackson’s success relative to the other quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL draft class, Ryan let us know his thoughts.

“I look at it this way: anybody that criticizes Lamar Jackson is an absolute idiot,” he said. “This guy right here - you’re going to criticize? He had 500 yards [passing and rushing] in this game. It’s his fault they lost? I don’t think so. Was it his fault the guy can’t catch the ball, leads to an interception? No, it wasn’t.

“This game was all about bully beat-down. The Titans bullied him and that’s how they won. But Lamar Jackson is an absolute freak. He deserves the league MVP, and he’s going to get many more.”

The MVP award is given for regular-season performance, not postseason, and Jackson’s 2019 season in leading Baltimore to a league-best 14-2 record can’t be taken away.

That said, he didn’t have his best game on Saturday against Tennessee, credited with two interceptions and one regrettable second-half fumble when he clearly was pushing hard to make a play.

Game plan partly to blame?

Another “Get Up” panelist, former punter Pat McAfee, wondered if the Ravens hurt themselves by abandoning what had worked for weeks.

“In this game, he threw the ball 59 times. And the reason why I don’t like that — not saying Lamar Jackson isn’t a great passer — but it almost feels like the Baltimore Ravens got desperate when they didn’t have to be desperate. They had more than enough with Lamar Jackson and sticking to the recipe that got them to where they’re at.

“He had the seventh-most pass attempts in the history of the NFL playoffs. ... They should have trusted Lamar instead of getting into the desperation play calls.”

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