Lamar Jackson attempts to live up to his 2019 MVP title


Photo used with permission from Google Commons

Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson

This year there has been speculation about the reigning MVP and QB of the Baltimore Ravens, Lamar Jackson. People say that the former Heisman Trophy winner has regressed to a level where his throwing ability is not improving, and might actually be worsening. 

While his numbers from last year have decreased, it is unclear whether Jackson’s elite days are officially over. He is having a hard time living up to the league’s most prestigious award, the Most Valuable Player award, for the second year in a row. 

Last season he put up unbeatable numbers, such as the league-leading touchdown passes (36). It is nearly impossible for anyone to replicate a record-breaking season in multiple aspects of the game, like beating Michael Vick’s single season rushing record for a QB with 1,206. Not only did that put him sixth among every player, but it included surpassing elite running backs in the likes of Saquon Barkley, Aaron Jones, Dalvin Cook and Josh Jacobs. Jackson also became the youngest MVP winner since Jim Brown in 1957, the second unanimous MVP ever and is currently the youngest QB with a perfect passer rating. 

While he hasn’t performed up to his caliber, Jackson has still had a good year statistically. He is ranked in the bottom 10 in interceptions with seven, most of which have been deflected passes. He also finished the season as a top 10 rusher in the NFL, putting up 1,005 yards on the ground while being the first QB in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards in multiple seasons. 

Jackson has not only gotten it done with his legs, but his arm as well. He has more than two touchdown passes in nine of the 17 regular season games, and is right outside of the top 10 in quarterback rating (QBR). He is heating up at the right time, with 15 TDs and three INTs the last five games heading into the playoffs. 

To put things into a bigger picture, it is important to look at how Jackson has helped the Ravens succeed over his three-year career. Jackson was put in Joe Flacco’s place after the Ravens’ week 10 bye in 2018. At this time, the Ravens were 4-5 and outside of the playoff picture. Despite this, Jackson finished the season 6-1 and won the Ravens their first AFC North title since the 2012 Super Bowl-winning year. So, while he is 1-3 in playoff games, Jackson has led the Ravens into a third consecutive postseason berth, something that hasn’t happened in 10 years. 

Looking beyond the statistics, Jackson has room for improvement as a thrower of the football and could become one of the best ever if he develops his passing game. But, since he is so explosive past the line of scrimmage and can embarrass defenders with his running, you can afford to be a lower-tier thrower. Jackson is only 24 years old and has an electrifying ability to extend plays and use his legs to help his team win. Hopefully, Jackson’s best days are ahead of him. As he and fellow teammate Mark Ingram say, you just gotta have “truss.”