With Second MVP, Lamar Jackson 'Walked Into Immortality'
As the final weeks of the regular season played out, it had become a virtual lock that Lamar Jackson would win his second NFL MVP award.
While Jackson taking home the trophy at NFL Honors last night was expected, what the Ravens star quarterback has accomplished in six seasons is truly extraordinary.
Having turned 27 last month, Jackson is the youngest quarterback and second-youngest player (behind Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown) to win multiple MVP awards, and is the 11th multi-time MVP in history. Jackson, who joined Tom Brady as the only unanimous MVP winners in 2019, fell one first-place vote shy of doing it again (more on that later).
Here's what pundits are saying about Jackson:
**NFL Network’s David Carr:** "He was the best player on the field every time he stepped out there. … Imagine winning the MVP while you're learning a new offense that is totally different than what you've done before. He's been on a run-first team, there were RPOs, and now they spread it out, sideline to sideline. You get Odell [Beckham Jr.] involved, you get Zay [Flowers involved], you're playing basketball on grass, and he was still the best player. So, for me, well-deserved. Should've been unanimous."
**The Ringer’s Austin Gayle:** "Although the take artists will hone in on his throw into triple coverage in the AFC championship game that ended the Ravens' season, what Jackson accomplished leading up to that moment was truly special. He leveled up in ways under new Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken that many never expected from him. He is one of the NFL's most prolific passers and runners and athletes. A second MVP award rightfully solidifies him among the most special people to ever play the game."
The Baltimore Banner's Kyle Goon: "With a simple stride across a stage, Lamar Jackson walked into immortality Thursday night. Only 10 men had won Most Valuable Player more than once, and they were the most hallowed names in football. Brown. Unitas. Montana. Young. Favre. Warner. Manning. Brady. Rodgers. Mahomes. And, now, Jackson. If you're feeling chills, don't worry. You should. Yet the higher you climb in football, just like an actual mountain, the harder it is to push on. The air is rarer and harder to draw in a fresh breath. Every misstep, every miscalculation is more consequential. That's the territory Jackson has entered — no longer measured against his peers but against the greatest players in the sport's history."
**NFL.com’s Nick Shook:** "The most important element — a Super Bowl appearance and/or victory — remains missing from his resume. But with Jackson only just entering his prime at 27 years old, the Ravens are lucky to call one of the NFL's most thrilling talents their own. And now, they can call him a two-time MVP."
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec: "What Jackson did produce this season was more evidence that he's the league's single most important player to his team's success. As Hall of Fame quarterback and ESPN analyst Troy Aikman said before a Ravens broadcast this past season, there's no quarterback asked to do more for his team. In 2023, Jackson delivered."
**ESPN’s Jamison Hensley:** "Jackson separated himself from the other candidates by playing his best against the best, recording 10 victories against teams that finished with winning records. That's the most by a quarterback in a single season since at least 2000, according to ESPN Stats & Information."
**Baltimore Beatdown’s Joshua Reed:** "Jackson now enters elite company as not just a multi-time MVP winner, [but he also] joins Patrick Mahomes as just the second African American quarterback to ever win the award more than once, a fitting way to open up Black History Month."
Analytics Expert Who Didn't Give Jackson First-Place Vote Urged to 'Watch the Games'
The lone voter who didn't have Jackson first on his MVP ballot was FTNFantasy's Aaron Schatz. Not only did Schatz cast his first-place vote for Bills quarterback Josh Allen, but he also put Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott ahead of Jackson.
Schatz, an analytics expert, published an explanation detailing why he voted the way he did.
"These are all talented quarterbacks. I'm a stat guy. I'm going to look at stats," Schatz wrote. "There's no question that by nearly every advanced metric you could look at, Josh Allen and Dak Prescott had better seasons than Lamar Jackson."
The Baltimore Sun’s C.J. Doon shot down Schatz's argument with three words: "Watch the games."
"When you tell the story of the 2023 NFL season and think back on its most memorable moments, how many involve Jackson and the Ravens?" Doon wrote. " … That's the problem when we start looking at stats and data as a way to evaluate everything we see on a football field.
"Jackson was the star of the season, the leader of the team that Schatz himself argued is one of the best regular-season teams in NFL history. The 2023 Ravens would not be in the same conversation with legendary teams such as the 2007 New England Patriots and 1985 Chicago Bears without Jackson under center."
Browns Are Big Winners on Awards Night
Based on the final tally of awards, one would think the Cleveland Browns won the AFC North and secured the No. 1 seed instead of the Ravens.
The Browns won four awards: Comeback Player of the Year (Joe Flacco), Defensive Player of the Year (Myles Garrett), Coach of the Year (Kevin Stefanski), and Assistant Coach of the Year (Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz).
Former Ravens Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald was a distant second to Schwartz, while Monken placed fifth.
It was surprising that Macdonald, who was named the Professional Football Writers of America Assistant Coach of the Year last month, didn't fare better considering his defense was the first in NFL history to lead the league in sacks, takeaways, and points allowed.
Harbaugh placed fifth for Coach of the Year. Jackson was fourth for Offensive Player of the Year.
Jacoby Jones Reflects on His Kickoff Return for Touchdown in Super Bowl
ESPN’s John Keim spoke to 10 former players who shared their memories of scoring a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Among them was Jacoby Jones, who reflected on his record 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the Ravens' win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII in February 2013.
"So I went to Coach Harbaugh and I'm like, 'Coach, we're going straight down the pipe let me come out no matter what.' He said, 'OK,'" Jones said. "The funniest thing is on media day I walked and stood on the spot and I said, 'Hey I'm coming out right here.' They're all looking at me like I'm crazy. It was the same spot I came off from. That's the most memorable thing when you talk about it and it happens. If you kick me the ball I'm going to make you apologize."
The kickoff return was the second trip to the zone that day for Jones, who also caught a 56-yard touchdown pass.