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Game-changer! NFL should move Lamar Jackson to prime time for rest of season

Schedule-makers, you know what to do: Flex the remaining Ravens games


LOS ANGELES — It took exactly 15 minutes after saxophonist Mike Phillips finished the national anthem for Lamar Jackson to get off to another blistering start. Fifteen minutes after that, No. 8 struck again. In a half-hour of actual time — not NFL clock minutes — the Baltimore Ravens quarterback had dashed the hopes of another opponent, this time the Los Angeles Rams.

Jackson is the best show in America and it’s not particularly close. Just ask Hollywood. On Monday night, he dazzled again. Aside from the three first-half touchdowns, he didn’t have an incomplete pass until the third quarter. There was no point in which anyone in the building thought the Rams would win this game. He’s so good, he makes other quarterbacks less fun to watch. To say he’s worth the price of admission is a massive understatement.

Whoever made the schedule? Scrap that. I realize the NFL has a policy of only flexing Sunday games, but that might need to change. Every single minute that Jackson plays in the NFL for the rest of this season should be broadcast to as many households in America as possible, if the league has its own best interest in mind. Next week versus the Niners? That should have been flexed into a primo slot the second Jackson’s first touchdown pass was caught. Seriously: Put every single game Jackson starts on national television until the Ravens’ season ends.

The week after that against the shockingly respectable Buffalo Bills? Yeah, New York Giants-Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football can absolutely get pushed aside. Who wants to watch a team going nowhere against a team that doesn’t know they’re going nowhere? Can’t figure out which one’s which in that NFC East matchup? Exactly.

The Ravens host the New York Jets on Thursday night for Week 15 (problem solved) and after that the Cleveland Browns welcome their spawn of a franchise back home. That’s the time of year when games are on Saturdays and one is Houston Texans-Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Schedule human: You know what to do.

In the final week of the season the Ravens host the Pittsburgh Steelers, but if things keep rolling the way they are, Jackson should be resting for the playoffs anyways, so who cares. The MVP chants were heard clear as day in the cool California night on Monday. If you’ve actually got the goods, put your best product forward.

Was this a perfect game for him? Not exactly.

“I don’t know. Like I said, I’m out there trying to compete,” Jackson said after the game. “I’m not worried about being perfect. I made plenty of mistakes.”

Jackson ended up with five touchdowns on 15-for-20 passing and 264 yards. He became the youngest player in history with multiple five touchdown-pass games in a season. And he might have ended the home team’s playoff hopes while he was at it. As for the game, 45 minutes of actual time after his first touchdown, he’d thrown his third touchdown, making the score 28-6 Ravens. In reality, it was only halftime. So, the crowd let the Rams know. An NFL team that was in the Super Bowl a season ago got booed off the field in its own building.

Another 15 minutes later, he threw another touchdown. Meanwhile, his counterpart, Jared Goff, who signed a $100 million-plus contract, ended up with two picks, no touchdowns and a hugely bruised ego. Welcome to the club, my guy.

“Give them credit, they did a good job, but we’re not going to let this bleed into next week,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said wistfully after the game. “This is humbling.”

Los Angeles got a front-row seat to the official coming-out party for the odds-on favorite for the league’s MVP. It could have been against New England when he dump-trucked the NFL’s golden boy franchise. It could have been against the Texans when the Ravens’ offense ransacked the Texans on their way to a 41-7 win. This was worse.

Last week, I asked former NFL receiver Santana Moss during his podcast what he thought of Jackson. “Lamar is a Florida boy, one. The way we play football down there is totally different from any other state,” the former Miami Hurricane pointed out. “But at the quarterback position … some of the things that he’s doing, it’s all about instincts. He’s out there playing football. … He’s playing ball at a different level than any quarterback because he’s not labeling himself like they labeled him coming in. He’s letting you know that I’m an athlete, and I’m going to go out there and play this game the way I know how to play it best.”

Whether or not Jackson is given the national TV treatment for the rest of the season, the Sunshine State is exactly where it will end, in Jackson’s hometown’s backyard:

Miami, home of Super Bowl LIV.

Clinton Yates is a tastemaker at Andscape. He likes rap, rock, reggae, R&B and remixes — in that order.