A lot of Pittsburgh Steelers fans—a lot—scoffed when the Baltimore Ravens traded back into the first round at pick 32 last year to pick up Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. Many had convinced themselves that his game would not translate at the NFL level. I was one of them, and so far, I have been pretty wrong.
Whatever can be said about him, he has been helping the Ravens win games. Over the course of the past two years, he has now made 17 starts, and he has gone 14-3 in those games. The Pittsburgh Steelers have gone 7-8 in that same span, including a record of 5-5 in 2019. Baltimore, in the meantime, is sitting pretty at 8-2 and having won its past six games, which is the longest active winning streak in the league.
As much as I don’t like to admit it—and he is still obviously not a finished product in terms of consistency as a passer—Jackson has been not just one of the most exciting but one of the best players in the league in 2019, especially on the offensive side of the ball. At this point, he may even be the frontrunner for the MVP award at the end of the season.
Over the course of 10 games, Jackson has completed 185 of 279 passes, completing about two thirds of his throws for 2258 yards with 9 touchdowns and five interceptions. Those numbers don’t exactly jump out at you as impressive, but you also have to figure in 788 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns on 115 carries.
For the season, Jackson is on pace to throw for 3612 yards, throw for 30-plus touchdowns, and rush for 1261 yards with another and score another 9 to 10 touchdowns with his legs. He will amass close to 5000 yards and 40 touchdowns with his arms and legs if he continues his current pace over the next six games.
And he’s doing it while winning games and helping his team compete for the top seed in the AFC. They have already beaten the New England Patriots, so they only need them to lose one more game than they do over the final six in order to claim homefield advantage throughout the postseason.
Jackson has outgunned Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, and now Deshaun Watson over the course of the past four weeks. Even Watson believes that Jackson should be the MVP this year. There is still time for that race to be decided, but he is right in the thick of it.