What Makes Lamar Jackson Special (Besides His Athleticism)? His Teammates Answer

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Anybody who saw Lamar Jackson's spin move touchdown in Cincinnati, or the way he weaved through Houston Texans defenders last week, can clearly see that he's a special athlete. No quarterback – not even Michael Vick –runs the way Lamar runs.

Combine that with an arm that's making every throw in the book, and it's clear that Jackson is a special athlete that stands out in a league full of them.

But besides his athleticism, what makes Jackson special?

I asked that exact question to Jackson's teammates – 17 so far – and here are their answers. You'll definitely see some common themes:

Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram II

RB Mark Ingram II

"I just think it's his mindset, his attitude, his focus. You can have the tools and the abilities, but if you don't have the proper mindset, it's really not worth anything. I just think his dedication, his mindset, his competitive nature, that's what separates him."

TE Mark Andrews

"To be honest with you, he just hates to lose. A lot of people say they hate to lose and love winning, but he lives that. He's one-track minded. When he first got here, he said it all the time. Winning Super Bowls is really all he wants. You can definitely see he believes in what he says."

G Marshal Yanda

"I think it's his approach. He's said that he's just one of the guys, and I definitely feel that about him, as far as, he comes to work every single day, and football is No. 1 in his life. Some guys that come through, they like what the game gives them, but they don't necessarily like the game all the time. This kid loves ball. He loves football. He loves getting better. He's a competitive guy. On Sunday, he's a competitive son of a gun. And that's what you need. If that's your guy, that's what you need. And he definitely has that. So, he's continuing to mature. In your second year, you have a lot of room to grow. I've said this before, but you can make big strides in both directions. Guys can regress; guys can really improve. And he's obviously matured and improved every single game."

Lamar Jackson and Willie Snead

WR Willie Snead

"He's a competitor. You have to have something to be a competitor. It's an energy, it's a vibe that you give off that everybody feeds off of. I hate comparing him to Drew [Brees], but Drew was the ultimate competitor in my eyes. To be able to come from that and see Lamar, it's like, 'Yeah, it's the same.' And Lamar is getting better every week. He's going to always have that attitude and that always gives us a chance to win. He can always get better as a quarterback, but you can't take away that competitiveness. That's always going to be there. Losing at anything is just not OK. Drew was just anal when it came to competitive stuff. He just wanted to win. That's how Lamar is. Fourth-and-2, 'I want the ball!'"

QB Robert Griffin III

"We were actually talking about this the other day. The thing that makes him special is the same thing that a lot of teams didn't like about him. It's his playful demeanor. When you get in the NFL, a lot of teams like the cookie cutter, boring answer, 'I've got to go look at the tape' guy. Lamar's personality and demeanor is very playful, he's very real when he talks. He doesn't talk like everybody else and act like everybody else. If you look at his interview and then you go look at Tom Brady's interview or Russell Wilson's interview or Kyler Murray's interview, they're all different, but all those other guys are kinda the same. Lamar's not like that. It's one of the best things the Baltimore Ravens did was allow Lamar Jackson to be himself. Be yourself. There's nothing wrong with that. He doesn't have to change that. He can answer questions the way he wants to answer questions. He can wear his hair the way he wants to wear his hair. I once had a coach tell me I needed to cut my hair off. I think that's the special thing about him is his personality and demeanor fits Baltimore, fits this locker room and, most of all, fits him. This game is so much easier when you're having fun."

TE Nick Boyle

"His personality and easy-goingness. When a play goes wrong or right, you look at him because he's the leader of the offense and he has a smile on his face and ready to move onto the next play. He's not going to yell at everyone, he holds himself accountable. He has this happy calmness that he brings to the team. When things don't go well, he's still OK."

Hayden Hurst Lamar Jackson Nick Boyle

TE Hayden Hurst

"I would say his composure. I think he's unique in the way he goes about things and he's not – this isn't a bad thing – I don't think he's the serious, lock-in guy. He just treats it like a game. I think that's why he's so good and is able to do what he does. He just goes out there and cuts it loose. It's fun. I think we all feed off of that too. He's happy-go-lucky, having fun playing the game."

S Earl Thomas III

"I would say his mental side of the game. He understands the game really well. He understands spots where to throw the ball in real, live time. I think that's very, very important."

K Justin Tucker

"One thing that really impressed me and stands out to me is it seems like no moment is too big for him. On the field, off the field. Just the way he handles questions from the media. The way he handles himself as a professional, that's what impresses me the most. That stuff is contagious. You can tell all the guys blocking for him and running the rock and going up and making spectacular catches, they all feed off that energy. It's really exciting to see from the sideline. Being able to put the exclamation points on a lot of those drives has been really, really fun for me this year, and it's definitely going to continue."

OT Orlando Brown Jr.

"His will to win. I think it's unreal, unmatched. That's one of the reasons he's been successful so much on every level. There's such a contagious energy on Sundays as far as his will to win. I've played with a lot of really great players. His drive to go out there every play, every game. It's only getting better and stronger. It's scary what he's going to be able to do in this league. The importance of winning a Super Bowl is at the top of his priority list. Obviously that's a long way away, but that's where he set his mind at."

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CB Marlon Humphrey

"He's one of the most humble guys that I've ever been [around]. And as he's been having more and more success, it seems like he's just gotten more and more humble. … In the training room yesterday, Lamar comes in and shakes everybody's hand, trainers, guys in the middle of rehab. Those are little things that … All eyes have been on Lamar in this MVP race, and for him just doing something like that, you look at it like, 'Dang, our starting quarterback, everyone's talking about him, he's just coming in here, not getting treatment, just to say hey to everybody."

DT Michael Pierce

"I'm not in the offensive huddle, but I feel like he's incredibly poised for his age. What is he, 22? Big games – Patriots game, Chiefs game – you never see him rattled. It was the same thing with Joe [Flacco]. I'm five years older than him and look at that guy and see he's not rattled. He's locked in. It's an incredible thing to possess. You step into M&T Bank Stadium and go against our defense, you see other young guys get rattled. What Lamar has is special."

CB Jimmy Smith

"I think he's a funny little dude. He's always joking around. Any time I see him, he's always trying to play corner and stuff like that – getting into cornerback position and trying to jam me. Him being a new guy and letting everybody see his personality. He's a funny little dude."

Matt Skura Lamar Jackson Ronnie Stanley

C Matt Skura

"He just has a downhill mindset of competitiveness and wanting to beat you every play – whether that's with his legs or with his arm. He just wants to win and he'll do whatever it takes. I think that's the biggest thing about him. He just has a crazy competitive spirit. It's contagious around the offense and the offensive line."

FB Patrick Ricard

"I would say how humble he is. It's very encouraging to see a player who came in the league and guys doubted him and now he's where he is now and he's still the exact same person – maybe even more humble than he was before. I think it just shows the kind of person he is and player. When you have that much success and you start letting it get to your head, you don't play as well. Him playing at the level he's playing at week after week, it shows us that that stuff doesn't matter to him. What matters to him is his relationships with us. He cares more about how we see him than how everybody else does."

QB Trace McSorley

"How he leads and his personality. People follow him. You get in the huddle and there's no doubt in anyone's mind that everyone is going to follow how he is. How he's able to lead guys on Sunday or through the entire week. We go as he goes. What he has as far as those intangibles, I think it's special and something not a lot of guys have. He's just true to himself. He is who he is and he's unapologetic about it. You get that every single day. He's 100 percent ball. That's first on his priority list. He is who he is and I think a lot of guys respect that about him. His No. 1 goal at all times is just to win. Guys respect a guy who all he cares about is winning and football. It's easy for guys to follow him. There's not a lot of guys like that out there; a lot of guys tend to look at other things. He doesn't care about anything else but winning and football and the guys on his team."

LB Josh Bynes

"His calmness. He's calm and he's patient, and he's poised. He's not letting anything distract him from the ultimate goal. That's hard to see in a young guy, especially being in the second year in the league. He's been excellent handling all the media attention and even attention on the field. He's calm, poised, and takes it one play at a time."

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