I didn’t get to this yesterday, because I took the day off (my stories were scheduled in advance to run, in case you were wondering—they almost always are), but while the Baltimore Ravens’ 2020 came to an abrupt end in the Divisional Round, they still had a remarkable season that was appropriately recognized during the NFL Honors awards on Saturday night prior to the Super Bowl.
It’s small consolation to the team, but nevertheless, head coach John Harbaugh was recognized as the coach of the year, and offensive coordinator Greg Roman was awarded the assistant coach of the year award as well. They went 14-2 during the season, led one of the highest-scoring offenses in NFL history, and became the first team ever to average over 200 yards in both passing and rushing in the same year.
To think there was talk of the Ravens and Harbaugh parting ways around the midpoint of the 2018 season…that talk has certainly since been exterminated.
More significant, however, was the biggest award of the night, the league’s MVP Award. That went to second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson, who became the second-youngest player ever to be honored, behind Cleveland Browns legend Jim Brown, who won the award twice—prior to the start of the Super Bowl era—at an age younger than Jackson.
Not only is he the second-youngest player to ever be named league MVP, he is also only the second player to ever earn the honor unanimously, with the first being New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, doing so in 2010. That was his second of three MVP awards, having most recently won it in 2017, as well as in 2007.
During the 2019 season, Jackson led the league with 36 passing touchdowns in an offense that did not revolve around his throwing the ball. He only attempted 401 passes, but he completed 265 of them for 3127 yards. He is one of only a handful of players to throw touchdowns on at least nine percent of his pass attempts while throwing 300 or more passes in a season. Just the sixth player to do it, in fact, Aaron Rodgers most recently in 2011 and Peyton Manning in 2004. The other three occurred in consecutive years between 1961 and 1963: George Blanda, Len Dawson, and Y.A. Tittle, respectively.
Aside from his highly efficient passing, he also took rushing from the quarterback position to a new level, featuring a great number of designed runs. In 15 games, he rushed for 1206 yards, the most ever by a quarterback, with seven touchdowns, leading the league by averaging 6.9 yards per carry.
Now, the question is, what can he do for an encore? The Ravens’ 2019 season will go down as an all-time great, but they are also 0-2 in the postseason. Arguably, Jackson still has another level as a pure passer he must reach to assure they can clear the final hurdle. We saw that with the San Francisco 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo last night.