Lamar Jackson Is a 'Lightyears Ahead' of Last Year

QB Lamar Jackson

How much better can reigning MVP Lamar Jackson get?

As the Ravens' 2020 season prepares to kick off Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium against the Cleveland Browns, that's one of the top questions surrounding the team.

Jackson is only 23, in just his third NFL season. There's a lot more room to grow, and running back Mark Ingram II has seen it this offseason.

"I feel like he's light years ahead right now of where he was at last year," Ingram said Wednesday.

"He's going to continue to improve, he's going to continue to get better, he's going to continue to be more confident in his abilities within the offense, knowing the offense, knowing the ins and outs and adjustments within the offense. He's just continuing to grow. It's special to be able to see it because I feel like he's a million times ahead of where he was at this point at last year."

It's going to be tough to top what Jackson did in Week 1 last season, when he came out of the gates with five touchdown passes and a perfect passer rating against the Miami Dolphins. After the game, he coined the now widely-quoted phrase: "Not bad for a running back."

Jackson was much more than a running back then, and he's even more of a polished quarterback now.

Last year, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said his biggest advancement in Year 3 was in reading defenses. After being named MVP the year before, defensive coordinators put in extra work trying to devise ways to flummox Mahomes. This offseason, they've surely done the same with Jackson.

But Jackson has been putting in the work too and has said that film study and reading defenses were some of his top focuses. He noticed the difference in training camp when going against the Ravens' complex defense, which does its best to present Jackson with different looks.

"I feel I've grown pretty good," Jackson said. "I do it at practice sometimes. I see things and go back and talk to my coach, Coach [James] Urban and tell him what I've seen. I feel like I'm getting very comfortable as the weeks and years go on."

As much as Jackson has progressed in the passing game, he'll still break ankles in the running game. Jackson's most unique physical skill is his speed and elusiveness as a runner.

After breaking Michael Vick's single-season rushing record last year with 1,206 yards, Jackson didn't dismiss the notion that his own record could be broken – even by himself.

"There's a lot of great players up and coming and I'm still playing right now, so you never know," Jackson said.

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