Munich / Baltimore – If a quarterback is elected MVP at the age of 23, it can have consequences. Also negative, depending on the character.
From the beginning, Lamar Jackson accompanied the narrative that he is not good enough as a passer. It cannot be good enough that it is not enough for the very highest level, for the very big cinema. This has been the case since his debut in 2018, continued through the 2019 MVP season up to the early playoff-off in 2020.
“Not bad for a running back”
“Not bad for a running back,” was a sentence Jackson himself said to verbally wipe out his critics. But the narrative stayed.
With his legs, he’s an elite quarterback, one of the best, if not the best, right now. But his arm does not come close to the yardstick that he himself sets for running.
Because Jackson not only refutes his critics this season, he mutes them. The arguments: are convincing, powerful, impressive. Or to stay in NFL parlance: Fired sharply and accurately.
Jackson orchestrated a race to catch up against the Indianapolis Colts after a 3:22 deficit at the end of the third quarter, which not only ensures that his Baltimore Ravens play in the favorites again, but also that Jackson shows: The MVP of 2019 is becoming more and more a real Most Valuable Player, a complete player.
It is therefore not surprising that he threw his helmet in the air after the 31:25 win after extra time. So high that someone else had to catch it again. One of the few actions he regrets that evening.
“I shouldn’t have – seriously,” said Jackson. “I have to be more reserved, but I was just excited. We had a win after extra time. It was pretty cool.”
Pretty cool numbers
“Pretty cool” are also the numbers with which the praises of the 24-year-old can be substantiated. There’s enough of that from the Colts game alone.
A few excerpts: Jackson beat Vinny Testaverde’s franchise record for passing yards with 442 yards in a game that went back to 1996 (429).
Jackson is the first quarterback in 20 years to break 16 point deficit in the final quarter and finish the game with 400 yards and four touchdowns, according to ESPN.
The completion percentage of 86 percent is not only impressive, Jackson is also the first quarterback in NFL history to achieve this value in over 40 (43) passes. The 86 percent rate was also the highest for a player who threw for at least 400 yards.
Other numbers games: He has 1,860 total yards – 1,519 in the air, 341 on the ground – more than 17 other NFL teams. At his current pace, he’s well on his way to throwing for 5,164 yards. This would pulverize his previous record (3,127 yards). The all-time record is currently 5,477.
Fun fact: He is fifth in the league at the Passing Yards and has 29 yards more than Patrick Mahomes.
But there is also a record that Jackson was actually interested in, because he’s the one that revolves around what it’s all about in the end: victories.
Lamar Jackson: “Focus on Winning”
Jackson and Dan Marino hold the record for the most wins (34) in a quarterback before his 25th birthday. Jackson celebrates it on January 7th. “I’m up there with the boys – these legends,” Jackson said. “I appreciate that. It’s an honor to be up there with these guys, but I’m focused on winning.”
That works pretty well and convincingly since he didn’t rest on his laurels after the MVP success, but instead accepts criticism, works on weaknesses, successfully implements advice and further limits or eliminates his mistakes. The Ravens are after four wins in a row with a 4: 1 balance in the target.
“It’s one of the best performances I’ve ever seen,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “And it wasn’t easy. We had to overcome a few things and fight our way through. Lamar was under pressure and he made moves with his feet. He threw the ball when he had to throw it. It all starts with Lamar. He deserves it Praise.”
Jackson’s comeback qualities can no longer be denied either. “You can’t say that anymore,” said tight end Mark Andrews. “Look at the last couple of games. He’s just calm and composed, and he’s a leader. That’s what we’re all looking at.”
Lamar Jackson is only scratching the surface
Defensive end Calais Campbell has seen quite a few quarterbacks and Jackson is “special to him. He’s just scratching the surface of how good he can be,” said Campbell. He too addressed the critics. “I know he’s known for what he can do with his legs and I have a feeling that his arm talent is not respected,” said Campbell.
And shoved afterwards: “I think that a lot of people should take back what has been said.”
Because it has long been time for a new narrative.
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