CHARISSA THOMPSON’S ONE-ON-ONE WITH LAMAR JACKSON
Thompson intro: Three straight wins for this red-hot team, scoring more than 40 points during that stretch. And Lamar [Jackson] is once again throwing and running for touchdowns in bunches. And perhaps the turning point you could point to was a couple weeks ago in that Cleveland game, when Superman arrived at just the right time.
Thompson: It (Cleveland game) was very much a scene out of a movie, right? You needed a cape on your back as you were running back out on the field to save the day. Take us through that.
Jackson: “When I saw Trace [McSorley] go down, I was getting stretched by one of our trainers and I was like, ‘Man, we got to go. We’ve got to go now.’”
Jackson: “You know, people try to say when I was cramping and stuff, that I went to the bathroom. Throughout a stretch like a tough game like that, I’m like ‘No.’ I wouldn’t have left that field to use the bathroom. I was cramping.”
Thompson: The way that you were running was what made everyone say that.
Jackson: “Yeah, because when J.K. [Dobbins] scored the touchdown and I’m hyped when I’m going to the side, and my calf started cramping. So I was like I don’t want to move the wrong way and have them just lock (up) on me. So I was trying to wobble like the ‘South Park’ characters.”
Thompson: You were wobbling all right. You made people think like, “Whoa, what’s happening there?” But you set the record straight. It was legitimate cramps. What an incredible finish.
Jackson: “Everyone was on that hot train last year and stuff like that. When things start turning, when it’s not going well for us, we just really see it now, you know. I really don’t feel like it’s this bad like people are trying to make it seem. But it’s just not what we — where we wanted to be ourselves and how we see ourselves playing.”
Thompson: You can go out and win the league MVP, but you still have to sort of respond to these so-called experts that say that you’re not an efficient passer. Do you feel a little bit of that personally?
Jackson: “Oh, man, just make me go out there and just do me. I don’t really like to get praise and stuff like that anyways. I’d rather just get out there so I can just keep proving myself and keep proving the doubters wrong.”
Thompson: Early on in the season, it looked like you were sitting back and sort of sitting in the pocket to conform and be this prototypical quarterback. Do you want to change?
Jackson: “I mean, no, because that’s not what got me here. That’s never been my style. You know, those guys been doing that forever, like the Tom Bradys and the Drew Breeses and the Mannings and stuff like that. My play style has been me. If things are not there, I’m using my legs, but if it there, use your arm. That’s just my game. I won’t change my game for nothing in the world because we’ve been having success with it. That’s just me.”
Thompson: 40‑plus points over the last couple of weeks, the most in the NFL, what’s working for you guys, because it seems like it all is?
Jackson: “We focus. We always talk about that before the games. And we finish them. We go into the second half and, like, it’s 0‑0, we’re not looking at ‘Are we winning the game?’ We focus on our opponents and focus on our assignments. Gotta keep being focused.”
Thompson: Is it going to hurt that you have to root for the Steelers down the stretch here because you need a couple things to fall into place in order to make it into the playoffs?
Jackson: “I’m not rooting for the Steelers. I’m only rooting for the Ravens. That’s my team. We’ve just got to focus on what we can control. We’ve got the Giants right now. That’s a good team we’re playing against. I don’t really care about what the Steelers have going on, to be honest with you. It is what it is.”
Thompson: You guys got hit hard with COVID in November. You, in particular. I also had it. I feel you. I don’t know what your symptoms were, but I was down for the count. Is that how you felt?
Jackson: “To be honest, I was sleeping throughout my days, like almost every day. As soon as I wake up, come in, had to be on Zoom meetings. I tell coach, ‘Coach, I can feel my body fighting against me, trying to stay up.’ So I wouldn’t want to wish that on anyone.”
Thompson: I’m not a former MVP in the league and I had a hard time getting my energy back. I can only imagine how you felt. But yet you guys were still incredible. With all the positive COVID tests you went 3‑1. How much have you guys gotten closer through this?
Jackson: “With all we’ve been through, we’re all going through the same thing. We mostly just join together, can’t fight against each other. Things haven’t gone our way how we wanted to, but we’ve just got to keep finishing and keep pushing to where we want to be. My team is definitely focused. I always say it’s a brotherhood here. Continue going on. Just gotta keep facing adversity, keep stacking wins.”
ERIN ANDREWS’ ONE-ON-ONE WITH BOBBY WAGNER AND JAMAL ADAMS
Wagner: “Hey, what’s up?”
Adams: “I have not been on FOX, so I’m excited.”
Andrews: Oh, I’m excited. I’m pumped you could do this.
Adams: “Absolutely. No problem.”
Andrews: Congratulations on everything.
Andrews: When you asked to be traded and that was all going down, this had to have been a situation you dreamed of, right?
Adams: “Yeah. It was definitely tough. Obviously, I didn’t want to have to go about it that way, but sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. Right? And I did it for my family, and I did it for myself and my career. And I don’t look back and have any regrets. But I’m just happy to be a part of such a unique franchise, and I’m just happy to be here.”
Andrews: The numbers that we were seeing out of this defense weren’t something we were used to seeing with Seattle’s defense. You’d almost have to take a second look and be like, “Really? This is their defense?”
Adams: “We couldn’t find it at the beginning. We had moments, and then sometimes we had bad moments. We knew that everybody was going to talk about us in a negative way, but we knew what type of talent we had. We knew what type of character we had. Guys got healthy. Guys started to believe in it and believe in one another. And when you do that, it’s a special thing.”
Andrews: When did you, as a leader on this defense, feel like it started to shift, that the gelling was happening and it was, like, “Okay, watch out, keep talking?”
Wagner: “Once we started getting guys back consistently on the field, like Jamal, I felt like things started to change, and you started to see that gel that I knew we had.”
Adams: “The Arizona game, that really pops up into my mind. I want to say that was the game that we really started to take that next step. We really started to communicate. We really started to feed off one another. When you do that, the sky’s the limit.”
Andrews: Dude, postseason. Postseason.
Adams: “Amazing. What a feeling. You know, all of those emotions (expressed in a press conference) were real. I was dead serious. A lot of sacrifice, hard work just to get to this moment. This is what I’ve always dreamed about, and just to have a chance. That’s all I ever wanted was a chance to compete for the chip. That’s all that matters to me. I’m not really into the seeding right now. Guys, they’re always like, ‘Hey, man, you want the first-round bye. But I’m like, ‘Man, I just want a chance.’”
Andrews: And a perfect, perfect time as you get ready to match up with the Los Angeles Rams, right, with the division on the line. Just perfect the way it all works out.
Wagner: “I mean, it always comes down to the last game. You know we like to make it interesting for our fans. So it should be a real fun game. We’re looking forward to it.”
Andrews: Weird offseason for you, obviously. When did you know this was the right thing?
Adams: “I knew it was the right fit by the way they embraced me. They cared about me more than just Jamal Adams on the football field. They cared about me off the field. That’s what mattered to me the most. It was the little things, how well the locker room clicks together; it’s a brotherhood. I knew this was the place for me. And I’m just excited to be here.”
Andrews: What has the edition of a Jamal Adams meant for this defense?
Wagner: “It’s meant everything. Jamal, with his energy and passion, the way he plays the game, getting another guy that loves to have fun.”
Andrews: What are you guys doing well right now that you’re pumped about, especially heading into the two final remaining games and postseason?
Wagner: “We have playmakers across the board. Everybody is gelling at the right time. I think we’re a team that no one wants to play. It’s going to be fun this game.”
Adams: “We’re finishing. That’s what it’s about. We’re finishing and we’re creating turnovers. That’s what we pride ourselves on, is getting the ball. As long as we continue to do our job, continue to play with the juice and swagger, continue to be confident through our preparation, the sky’s the limit.”