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Chargers Facing a Rare Threat in Lamar Jackson

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He only has five starts under his belt, but Lamar Jackson's already established himself as one of the rarest threats in the NFL.

Since taking over for Joe Flacco, the Ravens' first-round pick has run the ball almost as much as he's thrown it, toting the rock 114 times while throwing 124 passes.

The impact has been profound.

"It's just night and day from the Ravens offense when Joe was quarterback to now," said Head Coach Anthony Lynn. "So, it's challenging, because you don't see it every week. You have to play 11-on-11. You have to play with good discipline, sound football and win your one-on-ones. It's definitely challenging, because you don't see it every week."

You can say that again.

Jackson's 427 rushing yards in his five starts is the most by any quarterback in NFL history over the first five starts of his career. Those yards are the fifth-most of any player in the league over that span regardless of position. 

In addition, Baltimore has rushed for over 190 yards in five straight games, which is the first time a team has done that since the Steelers in 1976. They've totaled an NFL-high 1,152 yards over those games while giving up only 328 on defense. The 824 rushing-yard disparity is the largest in the league.

As a result, the Ravens are 4-1 in games the rookie has started, and the Bolts know they have their hands full stopping the game's preeminent dual-threat QB.  While Jackson is doing most of his impact on the ground, Lynn knows he's just as capable of carving up teams through the air.

"I know he's beating people with his legs right now, and he has no choice as to (how) they choose to use him with his legs," Lynn said. "But I watched him in college, and he threw for over 9,000 yards in college. The young man can throw the football, and he can develop into a pocket passer in this league. He has that type of skillset and that type of versatility. Just the fact that someone can move around like that and throw it, he's a threat."

Adrian Phillips agrees.

The Bolts just faced off against one of the top QBs in the game in Patrick Mahomes, and the newly-minted Pro Bowler explained that the defense is facing a similarly perilous challenge this week.

"Lamar and Mahomes, they're equally dangerous," he said. "Mahomes can throw it a mile. Lamar can throw it like crazy, too, but he can blink and he's running 70 yards. So throughout the week we'll have drills that focus on keeping the quarterback in the pocket and not letting him get out. But he's a great athlete. He's going to get out. We just have to make sure that when he does, we get him on the ground quick."

The Bolts clearly have their hands full with Jackson, but he's not the only one the defense must zero in on when it comes to stopping the run.

While Jackson has the fifth-most rushing yards in the NFL over the past five weeks, he doesn't even lead the team over that span. That honor belongs to Gus Edwards, who has toted the rock 96 times for 486 yards (5.1 ypc).

Thus, Lynn noted how tough it's going to be limiting the Ravens on the ground come Saturday night.

"Gus is running hard right now," he said. "He's very decisive, hitting the holes, (is) physical (and creates) plays after contact. They have a good thing going. They are a good complement to one another, because Lamar makes you protect the perimeter and Gus, when the defense gets soft in the middle, Gus attacks it down the line in the middle. It's a good complement to one another and what they're doing and how they're used in the scheme."

Browse through the top practice photos as the Bolts prep for Week 16 versus the Baltimore Ravens.

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