Ben Roethlisberger texted 28-time Olympic medalist and Ravens super fan Michael Phelps shortly after Baltimore signed Odell Beckham Jr. Both Roethlisberger and Phelps agree that Beckham could be a big boost for a Ravens offense and for quarterback Lamar Jackson, assuming the former league MVP will suit up for Baltimore this season.
Roethlisberger, who won his lone start against a Jackson-led Ravens team during his career with the Steelers, recently broke down how the addition of Beckham could be beneficial for Jackson. Roethlisberger's analysis included an honest assessment of how defenses try to stop Jackson.
"With Lamar, you want to bring safeties down to help stop the run," Roethlisberger said on the latest edition of his podcast. "You don't really fear Lamar's accuracy all the time. He's got a huge arm, he can make things happen when he scrambles, but you don't fear him just sitting in the pocket and picking you apart. So you bring safeties down because you do fear him running because he's a different level runner, so you fear that. ... But now, if you've got that guy on the outside, you better put a safety back or it's one-on-one, you can just throw it to him.
"So it definitely creates some potential opportunities for that offense and for Lamar to run if he has to or to take those big shots down the field if he needs to if they bring those safeties down."
Roethlisberger's comments offer insight into how opposing teams view Jackson, an elite runner who is the only quarterback in NFL history with two 1,000-yard rushing seasons to his credit. Jackson's accuracy, while good, is likely not the part of his game that necessarily keeps defensive coordinators up at night. Every quarterback has strengths and weaknesses to their game, and Jackson is no different.
Quarterbacks are often only as effective as the players around them, so that may be one of the reasons why Jackson's downfield accuracy is not more revered. That's why the addition of Beckham could be a game-changer for the Ravens, as the three-time Pro Bowl wideout could help Jackson have more success on downfield throws. Through five seasons, Jackson's best pass catcher thus has been Mark Andrews, a gifted tight end but certainly not a downfield threat.
Roethlisberger said that Beckham's impact will be bigger if a motivated Jackson returns to Baltimore for the 2023 season. At this point, the Ravens seem like Jackson's most likely team for the 2023 season as no team has made him an offer since Baltimore applied the non-exclusive tag on him.
With Beckham in tow, and with Jackson in the right headspace, Roethlisberger feels that the duo could do wonders for each other and the Ravens next season. Baltimore is hoping to seize back control of an AFC North division that was won by the Bengals each of the past two seasons.
"It's a big deal," Roethlisberger said of Beckham possibly joining forces with Jackson. "That's a big boost."