Already an Elite Player, Lamar Jackson Is Capable of Even More
If Lamar Jackson wins his second MVP award tonight at NFL Honors as expected, he will join Patrick Mahomes and Hall of Famers Brett Favre and Jim Brown as the only players to win multiple MVP awards at age 27 or younger.
As great as Jackson has been, however, The Baltimore Banner's Jonas Shaffer said the Ravens star quarterback is capable of much more.
"If Jackson's 2023 revealed how far he can take a modern, pass-first offense, it also pointed toward how much further he can go," Shaffer wrote. "That was the pain of the Ravens' AFC championship game loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. That's also the promise of 2024 and beyond for Jackson."
Shaffer added: "Thursday's NFL Honors event in Las Vegas, then, will serve as a bittersweet reminder to Jackson of all he accomplished during a season cut unexpectedly short. The Ravens entered the playoffs as the league's best team because, it seemed, they also had the league's best player. Only when Jackson was stopped did the magnitude of his season come into focus. He'd done so much for the Ravens. He can still do so much more."
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec said Jackson provided more evidence this season "that he's the league's single most important player to his team's success."
"He showed his growth as a passer, decision-maker and leader, all while learning a completely new offense under first-year Ravens coordinator Todd Monken," Zrebiec wrote. "He stayed healthy and remained as dangerous as ever as a dual-threat quarterback. As teams made their playoff pushes in November and December, Jackson was the best player on the field week in and week out. Baltimore outplayed one top team and MVP candidate after another en route to a 13-4 regular season and the AFC's top seed."
2023 Ravens Are Among All-Time Best Teams Not to Make the Super Bowl
This is a tough week for Ravens fans, most of whom expected the team to be in Las Vegas right now preparing for the Super Bowl.
Instead, the Ravens Flock has had to listen to pundits discuss whether Mahomes can unseat Tom Brady as the GOAT and speculate on whether Travis Kelce will propose to Taylor Swift at the Super Bowl.
The Ravens aren't the first team to fall short of making the Super Bowl after a dominant regular season. The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker ranked the 10 best teams not to make the Super Bowl. The 2023 Ravens, who led the league in wins (13) and point differential (plus 203), came in at No. 5.
"It's a difficult choice between this team and the 2019 edition that rolled up a greater scoring margin with the league's best offense," Walker wrote. "But the 2023 Ravens hit higher peaks against better competition, were more balanced and advanced deeper in the playoffs. Lamar Jackson was statistically superior in his 2019 MVP year, but he's expected to win the award again this year, and the 2023 defense was better, leading the league in sacks and takeaways while allowing the fewest points. The Ravens are in mighty company on this list, but their missed opportunity will sting for a long while."
It's obviously not a list any team strives to be on, but winning in the regular season — which the Ravens do consistently — means they're always in the championship picture, and plenty of franchises would gladly trade places with them.
Walker said the No. 10 team on his list, the 2005 Indianapolis Colts, provide "a hopeful tale for Ravens fans wondering if Jackson will ever break through."
"Peyton Manning was in his eighth season in 2005, with two NFL Most Valuable Player Awards on his shelf. His Colts, featuring an elite offense and an opportunistic defense masterminded by coach Tony Dungy, won their first 13 games," Walker wrote. "But they fell behind 21-3 to the Steelers in the AFC divisional round, and Manning, who took five sacks, could not rally them. To that point in his career, he had made one AFC championship game in six postseason appearances. Why, critics wondered, could he never win the big one? Well, the next year, Manning took a lesser team to Super Bowl glory."
Mahomes Says He 'Hates Going Up Against' Jackson
Several days before the Ravens and Chiefs met in the AFC Championship, Jackson was asked what it is about competing against Mahomes that he likes.
"I don't like competing against him at all," Jackson said with a laugh.
Speaking to the media at the Super Bowl this week, Mahomes expressed a similar sentiment when asked about the growth he's seen from Jackson over the years.
"All you want to do in this league is get better year in and year out, and you've seen that from Lamar," Mahomes said. "It's hard when you win the MVP that first season to strive to be even better, and he's done that. That's why he's probably going to win the MVP here in a couple days, and it's someone that I hate going up against because I know that he's going to make plays all over the field."
Chiefs Safety Justin Reid: Kyle Hamilton 'Is Going to Be a Star'
The Chiefs' Justin Reid got a firsthand look at fellow safety Kyle Hamilton at the AFC Championship Game and came away impressed.
"He's going to be a star," Reid said during his media session at the Super Bowl this week. "The guy's got length. He's physical. He blitzes. He makes plays in zone. He plays man coverage. He had a tall task guarding [Travis Kelce] all day, which I know from personal experience is not easy to do at all. That kid's going to be a star. I can't wait to see where his career takes him."
One could argue that Hamilton, 22, is already a star in just his second season. The 2022 first-round pick was a first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection this season.
More Mock Drafts Link Missouri Edge Rusher Darius Robinson to Ravens
As more mock drafts are released, one player has emerged as the early favorite to be selected by the Ravens with the 30th pick in the first round: Missouri edge rusher Darius Robinson.
It was noted in Late for Work earlier this week that CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso mocked Robinson to the Ravens. ESPN's Matt Miller, The Baltimore Sun’s C.J. Doon, CBS Sports’ Josh Edwards, and The 33rd Team’s Connor Livesay also have matched Robinson with Baltimore.
"If there was one big riser from Senior Bowl week, it was Robinson," Miller wrote. "The 6-foot-5, 286-pounder showed great power and movement ability while playing at both defensive end and defensive tackle during practices. His versatility is a gift, and the Ravens love large outside pass-rushers. With Justin Madubuike and Jadeveon Clowney entering free agency, there's a need. There's some Cameron Jordan ability here in Robinson's game — he had 8.5 sacks in 2023 — and his stock is soaring like a rocket."
Bleacher Report’s Matt Holder said the Ravens are the best fit for Robinson.
"Between the Ravens' need for defensive linemen and Robinson's position versatility, this could be a perfect pairing," Holder wrote.