I don’t think there is really much room to debate at this point that Baltimore Ravens second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson, at the age of 22, is the Most Valuable Player in the NFL right now. That’s not even considering the team’s track record over the prior five and a half years with Joe Flacco under center.
Jackson is 18-4 as a starter and has led them to back-to-back division championships. Since winning the Super Bowl in 2012, the Ravens had a losing record overall, and only made the postseason once, under Flacco, who has now been benched this year in favor of yet another rookie, who was injured for most of the year.
Not only is Jackson highly conducive to winning, he is making history nearly every game that he plays. Last night, for example, nursing a sore hamstring, while leading the Ravens to their 10th consecutive victory, he broke the single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback.
He picked up 86 rushing yards on just eight attempts, now at 1103 rushing yards on the season. He surpassed Michael Vick in doing so, the only other quarterback to ever rush for at least 1000 yards in a single season. And he still has two games (in theory) to extend his lead.
Lest we forget, Jackson also leads the NFL in passing touchdowns. After putting up another five last night on the New York Jets, he has 33 touchdowns on the season, more than anybody else in the league. By far. Yes, he is a game ahead right now, but the nearest are Russell Wilson and Jameis Winston at 26.
Jackson only ranks 17 in passing yards with 2889 on the season. It’s extremely, extremely unlikely that he gets very close to 4000 at this point, which has become the standard, but one must also keep in mind that he doesn’t have to throw a lot. He has only attempted 370 passes, tied for the 23rd-most. He ranks 42nd with 26.4 pass attempts per game. There are 32 quarterbacks who have averaged 30 or more attempts this season.
I’ve said this probably half a dozen times this year, but I’ll say it again. The scariest thing about Jackson is that he is still in development. He’s 22 years old with 21 starts under his belt. He’s going to get a lot better as a passer. Will he be asked the throw more? Only if it becomes necessary, and with Greg Roman’s offense, it hasn’t been.
The biggest difference between Jackson and just about every other ‘mobile quarterback’ is the fact that the vast majority of Jackson’s rushing yardage comes off of designed plays, not scrambles when a passing play breaks down. When you have a guy who can routinely embarrass elite athletes by making them flail at air, you might as well use that talent. It’s no surprise he broke Vick’s record.