Lamar Jackson Is a 'Much Better Quarterback' Now Than His 2019 MVP Season
With Lamar Jackson in the thick of the NFL MVP race, comparisons are being made to his 2019 season, when he became just the second unanimous MVP in league history.
The stats suggest that Jackson's 2019 campaign was superior. He not only set the single-season rushing record for a quarterback, but he also led the league in touchdown passes (36) and threw just six interceptions.
Jackson's numbers could've been even more eye-popping that year, but he didn't play in the final game of the season because the Ravens had already clinched the No.1 seed in the AFC, and he often was pulled early in games because the Ravens had comfortable leads.
This season, Jackson has 17 touchdown passes to seven interceptions and is on pace to rush for 899 yards.
However, as great as Jackson was in 2019, NFL Network's Chris Rose and Maurice Jones-Drew said he is a better quarterback in 2023.
"He makes the three or four best plays in every game that he is in," Rose said. "Don't look at the stats when you're talking about whether he is the MVP or not the MVP. It's different than 2019 when he won that whole thing. Dude is just amazing. To me, he's actually a better quarterback than when he won the MVP."
Jones-Drew said: "He's a much better quarterback. First of all, I'd like to give him credit for taking on the role of being the guy and wanting to take control of the offense, and then [Offensive Coordinator] Todd Monken, who allows him to make checks at the line of scrimmage.
"How many times [Sunday night] did we see a negative gain turn into a positive gain? Or the play to Isaiah Likely where he was sacked and ends up finding a guy? That's MVP-type of play. Now are the numbers there? No, but his team has 11 wins, and they find a way to win every week no matter who the team is, no matter what the situation is, on the road, at home, rain, sun, it doesn't matter. Lamar Jackson does what it takes to win."
One number from his 2019 season that Jackson should eclipse by a significant margin is his passing yardage. He finished with 3,127 yards in 2019 but already has 3,105 this year.
The Ringer's Benjamin Solak pointed out that if Jackson continues passing and running at his current pace over the final three weeks of the season, he'll again make history.
Analyst Names Eric DeCosta a Top Five Candidate for NFL Executive of the Year
NFL Network analyst and former NFL executive Scott Pioli named his top five candidates for NFL Executive of the Year, and Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta made the list.
Here's a look at Pioli's take on DeCosta:
"DeCosta made several key moves in free agency, signing Odell Beckham Jr. and re-signing Geno Stone, who have been significant contributors this fall. DeCosta also made some under-the-radar moves on team-friendly contracts/short-term deals, including those signed by Nelson Agholor, Kyle Van Noy, Jadeveon Clowney and Ronald Darby, who was signed for $1.7 million after CB1 Marlon Humphrey's injury in training camp. The biggest checked box of all, though, was finally agreeing to terms with Lamar Jackson, ending a years-long contract situation and locking in the 2019 MVP quarterback through 2027."
"Each of Baltimore's first three draft picks this year — wide receiver Zay Flowers, linebacker Trenton Simpson and defensive end Tavius Robinson — have produced. Flowers, the No. 22 overall pick, has lived up to his draft standing early in his career, as he leads the team in targets (92), receptions (65) and receiving yards (680) through 15 weeks."
"Baltimore boasts one of the more complete rosters in the NFL this season, and it's paying off, as the Ravens currently own the best record (11-3) in the AFC. DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh have ideal organizational stability that shouldn't be overlooked or taken for granted. (I had the luxury of enjoying similar cohesion during my time with Bill Belichick in New England.) This game breeds paranoia and lack of trust because there are so many moving parts and so much pressure to achieve immediate results, so when you are partnered with someone you know you can trust (and someone who trusts you, too), you can't put a value on that. When the partnership has that trust, it allows everyone in the entire organization to just do their jobs."
Pat McAfee: "I Love This Ravens Team'
ESPN's Pat McAfee could not contain his enthusiasm for the Ravens in the wake of their 23-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday night.
"I don't know if the Ravens are worrying about anybody. That team is just the coolest team," he said on "The Pat McAfee Show." "I love this Ravens team. I absolutely enjoy them. I think they could go on a run this year. They've won a playoff game with Lamar Jackson as quarterback. This year feels different out of them. Feels expected.
"The team is built to not only be entertaining, but be dominant, and they have been."
McAfee marveled at Jackson's play this season and said the Ravens should have more primetime games because of him.
"Watching him every play is electrifying," McAfee said. "Even the plays when he gets sacked, or it's a turnover, or a nothing play, it's like at any given moment, boom, that thing can explode."
For Ravens and Dolphins, 'Playoffs Start Right Now'
The NFL playoffs don't begin until Jan. 13, but "Good Morning Football's" Peter Schrager said the playoffs begin this week for the Ravens and Miami Dolphins.
The Ravens (11-3) are currently the No. 1 seed in the AFC and the Dolphins are No. 2. The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs (9-5), who have hosted the past five AFC Championship games, are lurking at No. 3.
The Ravens and Dolphins, who will meet in Baltimore in Week 17, have brutal remaining schedules. The Ravens play at the San Francisco 49ers (11-3) on Christmas night and host the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7) in Week 18. The Dolphins host the Dallas Cowboys (10-4) Sunday and the hot Buffalo Bills (8-6) in Week 18.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs are at home against the Las Vegas Raiders (6-8) and Cincinnati Bengals (8-6), and then finish the season on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers (5-9).
One of the tiebreakers for the No. 1 seed is conference record. The Chiefs are 7-2, while the Ravens and Dolphins are both 7-3.
"It's not only a back door, it's a back fence that is wide open for the Kansas City Chiefs to steal that away," Schrager said. "The Dolphins and the Ravens can control their own destinies if they just take care of business. Playoffs start right now for both those teams."