LeBron James, Ray Lewis and Pundits Mock "Quarterbacky" Take After Lamar Jackson's Perfect Game
Earlier last week on FOX Sports Radio, host Monse Bolaños made the bewildering comment that Lamar Jackson shouldn't be the MVP because, "I want my quarterbacks to be quarterbacky. And to me, Lamar Jackson is just a great athlete."
It was mocked on Twitter by fans and deemed a poor take by the masses, but, after Jackson's five touchdown passes and perfect performance in terms of quarterback rating, big names such as Ray Lewis and LeBron James, among others, have chimed in.
They aren't alone either, as pundits have further mocked the commentary.
"Is Lamar Jackson 'quarterback-y' enough yet? The superlatives for the Ravens' leader flowed as freely and sweet as the celebratory nectar of not just a 10th victory in the past 11 games, but a 56-19 dismantling of the Miami Dolphins on Sunday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium," wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Brian Wacker.
While the questionably motivated takes never go away regarding Jackson, it's good to see the larger sports community call them out.
By the way, Jackson saw some of the buzz about it on social media before Sunday's game but didn't pay it much attention. He laughed about it in the postgame locker room. His teammate, Patrick Queen, wasn't laughing so much though.
Ravens Remove All Doubt on Who's the No. 1 Team in the NFL
Since the bye week, the Ravens have been facing "a new test" with each game. They handled their business, winning four-straight games against teams currently slated to go to the playoffs. On Sunday, they left no doubt about who is the best in the NFL.
**NFL.com’s** Nick Shook: "Fresh off a statement win in which Baltimore scored at will against San Francisco, the Ravens did one better Sunday, dropping an outrageous 56 points on a Dolphins defense that resembled a colander more than a professional unit responsible for limiting an opponent. … This is the well-oiled machine most expected to see when Todd Monken took over as offensive coordinator, and he earned his extended face time on the CBS broadcast Sunday."
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec: "Relying on the brilliance of Jackson and a defense that persisted through a slow start and myriad injuries, the Ravens turned a one-point game in the second quarter into a blowout by scoring 42 of the game's final 48 points. With his five touchdown passes, a perfect 158.3 passer rating and 356 yards of total offense, Jackson likely put a bow on his second MVP award. But this was a team-wide demolition of the Dolphins, who came into the game with 11 wins and a chance to move into the AFC's top spot.
The Athletic's Dan Pompei: "The Ravens are a complete team and are doing everything at a high level. That includes playing with consistency. They manhandled the Dolphins — one of football's best — even though they were coming off an emotional victory on the road and playing on a short week. They are handling challenge after challenge. The only potential danger for this team appears to be peaking too soon. Their defense is as good as any, and it comes up with sacks and takeaways. Offensively, they make chunk plays and come through in the clutch. Defenses can play Jackson exactly the way they intend to and still get torched. So far they have overcome injuries remarkably. What they are doing is a testament to the organization, the scouting and the coaching as well as the players. The vision laid out by general manager Eric DeCosta and coach John Harbaugh is being executed. DeCosta should get strong consideration for executive of the year and Harbaugh should get strong consideration for coach of the year."
The Athletic's Ted Nguyen: "The Ravens don't have a glaring weakness, other than perhaps lacking a true superstar at pass catcher. Sunday's win was their seventh in double digits against a team with a winning record."
**The Baltimore Sun’s** Tim Schwartz: "The best team in the NFL resides in Baltimore. There wasn't much doubt about that after Monday's beatdown of the 49ers, but Sunday's dismantling of the Dolphins put an exclamation point on the Ravens' 2023 regular season. Yes, they still need to play the Steelers next week, but they have earned the option of resting players in what will be a meaningless game for Baltimore."
Should John Harbaugh Win Coach of the Year?
In 2019, Head Coach John Harbaugh won Coach of the Year for his team's performance in going 14-2 and securing the No. 1 seed by Week 17. Jackson was the unanimous MVP that year and his coordinators were both given consideration for Assistant Coach of the Year, with Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman taking home the hardware.
Four years later, the Ravens find themselves in the same position, which has FOX NFL Sunday's Jay Glazer asking why Harbaugh hasn't been mentioned for the accolade.
Few have given the Ravens' esteemed leader his due this season, with the team's biggest stars and moves in the offseason taking precedent.
But at the head of it all, the hirings were made by Harbaugh.
At the head of the table, Harbaugh's led the Ravens and they're back in the same situation that earned Harbaugh and Co. recognition from their peers. So, why shouldn't they be in the running, or not earning the same achievements? The Baltimore Banner's Kyle Goon said it plainly.
"Give John Harbaugh Coach of the Year," Goon wrote. "Adjust the damn Super Bowl odds. Baltimore has earned it. In the regular season at least, there are no dragons left to slay. The Ravens are the best team in football."
Was That Lamar's Best Performance Ever?
Many heralded Jackson's play on Sunday. Who couldn't after he shredded one of the best defenses in the NFL? The performance was an emphatic stamp of certification on Jackson's second MVP resume. And while many are handing out Jackson's well-earned flowers, The Baltimore Banner's Jonas Shaffer argued it was Jackson's "best performance ever."
"Lamar Jackson had always been capable of head-shaking greatness, of defying even the most outsize expectations," Shaffer wrote. "But this? Perhaps at some point in the not-too-distant future, the sheer scale of Jackson's greatness in the Ravens' 56-19 win over the Miami Dolphins will be reckoned with and accounted for."
Jackson's numbers, both traditional and "nerdy," according to Shaffer, are in the upper echelon for Jackson, who has had a handful of remarkable games.
"Jackson averaged 1.23 expected points added per drop-back, according to TruMedia, the second highest of his career. He averaged 9.4 yards per play, the third highest of his career. His success rate on pass plays was 68.2%, the fourth highest of his career."
The context for this game will be forgotten in time, but Shaffer shares how significant this performance was in regard to Jackson's surrounding cast, both who were absent and those who were banged up.
"He was playing without his favorite target, tight end Mark Andrews; the offense's two most explosive running backs, J.K. Dobbins and Keaton Mitchell; and stalwart right guard Kevin Zeitler, all sidelined by injuries," Shaffer wrote. "Top wide receiver Zay Flowers was running at less than full strength, as Stanley and right tackle Morgan Moses have been for months now. The whole team was playing on a short week's rest after a smashmouth win Monday night over the NFC-leading San Francisco 49ers. The AFC East-leading Dolphins (11-5) entered Sunday as an elite defense with room still to grow. Since Week 8, Miami had ranked first in EPA per play, second in success rate and fifth in DVOA, according to FTN — and it had done so for the past month without star safety Jevon Holland, who returned from injury Sunday."[quote]
But Jackson had incredible games in 2019? He did so against the Miami Dolphins for his first start in 2019? That's precisely why Shaffer argues this is his best-ever performance.
"When Jackson went supernova for stretches four years ago, he was toasting defenses still figuring him out, this unprecedented mix of supreme running talent and immense but still-raw passing ability," Shaffer wrote. "Over the seasons that followed, of course, opponents got smarter. Game plans got better. Every once in a while, Jackson could be blitzed into submission. Or he could be deceived. He could be made to feel uncomfortable. Even this season, his fifth as a full-time starter in Baltimore, there have been ups and downs."
Those Jackson MVP Flowers Smell Awfully Nice
As mentioned, many are handing Jackson his well-deserved flowers. Here they are:
**NBC Sports’** Peter King: "Lamar Jackson, as you've seen, has been magnificent. He's cemented his MVP candidacy by beating the formidable Niners and Dolphins in the span of seven days by a combined 51 points. Video-game football over those two games: 73 percent passing, seven TDs, zero picks. Jackson is playing the position with such flow, such fluidity. Nobody gets a big hit on him. Nobody. His touch is so deft. Forget stats, because some have better ones. Watch the games. Watch Jackson's control of the games. There can't be a question about the MVP race now after watching Jackson, leading the best team, dismantle two of the best teams in football in a week."
**ESPN’s** Dan Graziano: "You can make a strong case that there is no player in the league more central and vital to what his team does than Jackson. The extent to which he has embraced and mastered the new offense under first-year coordinator Todd Monken is admirable. Teammates and coaches say he has elevated his leadership qualities to new heights this season."
Nguyen: "Naysayers used Jackson's stats to make a case against his worthiness for MVP, but after throwing for five touchdowns Sunday, it's getting harder and harder to find reasons not to give it to him. His passing and rushing touchdown total is now 29."
**Sports Illustrated’s** Albert Breer: "He's 26, and it'll be his second time winning the award, which is remarkable in its own right. But, to me, this one is a little different than the last one. There's the fact that, now, four years later, the other 31 teams are more prepared and dialed into how the Ravens will attack them, so the element of shock-and-awe has been removed. Then there's the reason why I think this is such an easy call. If 2019 was about what a mind-blowing talent Jackson was, to take the league by storm as he did, then this year, I believe, was equally impressive in how the quarterback was at his best when the Ravens absolutely needed him the most."