Lamar Jackson has rewritten NFL record books for well-run generals. Going into Thursday night’s game against the Jets on Thursday night, the Ravens QB needed just 23 stairs to break Michael Vick’s record for a position (1,039). It ends with 86 and is now up to 1,103.
The record, however, was a wording for a moment, as Jackson averaged 78.3 rushing yards over 13 games going into Week 15 and is now in the process of finishing with 1,261 yards. Even if Baltimore finds him in Week 17, should he have the top seed of the AFC in his hand, he should end up breaking the Vick mark in 2006.
Perhaps, with Jackson officially overtaking Vick on the ground, the focus may be on what really made the heavyweight NFL MVP favorite in 2019: his passing.
Think of it as going to the Jets matchup, these were Jackson’s numbers through the air: 66.3% completion, 2,677 yards, 28 touchdowns in just six interceptions, 8.6 yards per attempt, 109.2 passer rating, 78.2 QBR. With five more TDs and 212 yards on Thursday, it is now at 3,302 passing yards and 38 passing TDs.
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Here’s what Vick did in 16 games for the Falcons in 2006: 2,474 passing yards, 20 passing TDs in 13 INTs, 5.9 custom yards per effort, 75.7 rating, 49.3 QBR. Vick’s pass rush came in 12 games in 2010 with the Eagles: 3,018 passing yards, 21 TDs in six INTs, 8.5 yards per attempt, 100.2 rating, 65.0 QBR.
Vick has played in a slightly less fortunate season, but there is no comparison with Jackson when it comes to throwing the ball. The recent overall season from a QB that can run well and is in line with Jackson’s second start really belongs to his veteran backup, Robert Griffin III.
Griffin, as the 2012 NFL Offensive Champion of the Year with the Redskins, posted these totals: 65.2 completion percentage, 3,200 passing yards, 20 TDs with five INTs, 8.6 custom yards per effort, 102.4 passer rating , 69.4 QBR. He added 815 rushing yards and seven rushing TDs. Again, Jackson is also the best passer and runner in 2019, having already scored numerous times with Griffin.
Griffin was not in the MVP conversation at the time, and Jackson now dominates. While on the subject of double threat QBs, let’s look at Jackson vs. 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton. This is what Newton did for the Panthers four seasons ago leading them to the Super Bowl 50: 59.8 completion percentage, 3,837 passing yards, 35 TDs in 10 INTs, 8.3 yards per attempt, 99.4 passer rating, 67.0 QBR. He also ran for 636 yards and 10 TDs.
One more time: Jackson has a more efficient season than Newton did and nearing more productive in terms of combined yardage and touchdowns.
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Jackson didn’t hit a 50-plus TD pass the way Tom Brady (2007), Peyton Manning (2013) and Patrick Mahomes (2018) did in MVP campaigns. It also doesn’t evaluate what Aaron Rodgers (2011, 2014) and Matt Ryan (2016) did during the recent MVP demonstrations.
But, given the few extreme peaks in production by other generals, Jackson has been so attractive last season, he would still be an MVP contender if he had zero production rush.
Jackson was a blind runner in a position the game has never seen before. But that was the most elemental part of the equation in Year 2, as he rushed for 695 yards and five TDs while only getting seven starts as a rookie.
Imagine how famous Jackson’s numbers would be if he didn’t cultivate his own production with his constant runs and rushing results in the red zone. Ravens coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman have adapted their system to Jackson’s unique strengths and were confident he could produce, but no one could expect that high to pass so quickly for any QB. What Jackson does in a slightly different way is the same wow factor for what Mahomes did last season.
Jackson’s run gave him a high floor as a sophomore. But passing down the field is what allowed him to shoot from the exciting exciting first round Heisman Trophy winner to the best and most valuable player in the NFL.