Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was called a “running back” once again, this time by Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson in a postgame press conference as first reported by Dov Kleiman.
The comments drew attention on social media, with many calling out the second-year linebacker for the perceived slight against Jackson, an early frontrunner for the NFL Most Valuable Player award this season.
Wilson quickly clarified that the description was intended as a compliment for Jackson’s “skill set as a runner,” adding “We all know he’s an elite passer too.”
Wilson will have his hands full attempting to slow down Jackson next week during the Bengals’ Week 7 visit to Baltimore.
“He’s very dynamic. You just gotta contain him as best you can,” said Wilson of the Ravens’ QB on Sunday.
Jackson’s critics have long used the “running back” label to put down the 2019 MVP’s passing ability for his entire career, despite his clear proficiency at throwing the football.
The former Louisville Cardinal has been able to shrug off the criticism with a smile, memorably telling media that his 324-yard, five-touchdown passing performance against the Miami Dolphins in 2019 was “not bad for a running back.”
Even when pundits claimed that NFL defenses would figure Jackson out this season, the 24-year-old signal caller responded with a simple, “I doubt it,” and let his stellar play through six weeks remind the league just how talented he is.
Wilson off to Hot Start in 2021
Wilson has kicked off his own 2021 season with a bang, recording 53 tackles in six games, the 10th-most in the NFL, as well as four interceptions, second to only Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs.
His performance has earned him a 74.6 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, good for 10th-best among all linebackers as classified by PFF.
Wilson’s has shown off his pass coverage ability all year, including a two-pick game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He now has six interceptions in his first 18 NFL games, per Bengals’ broadcaster Dan Hoard, an impressive start to any linebacker’s career.
The former Wyoming Cowboy will be instrumental in the Bengals’ effort to slow down Jackson and the Ravens’ in-stride offense next week.
Jackson Still MVP Frontrunner
Despite a relatively unspectacular performance against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, Jackson still became the winningest quarterback before the age of 25 in NFL history, adding another record to his sterling resume.
The dominant 34-6 victory solidified Jackson’s growing case as the NFL’s MVP this season, with many analysts and pundits starting to agree.
Steven Ruiz of The Ringer used a variety of categories to rank nine MVP candidates, landing on Jackson as the leader in most value added to his team.
If it wasn’t already clear before the 2021 season, it is now: Lamar Jackson makes the Ravens offense viable—not the other way around. When Jackson won the MVP award in 2019, there were still some naysayers who believed his success was the product of a stellar supporting cast and play-calling that was custom built for his strengths and weaknesses as a passer. Those arguments can no longer be made.
Former Ravens tight end and Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe arrived at a similar conclusion yesterday, saying “It’s really close, there’s a lot of guys in the conversation. But for me, I got Lamar. I don’t think anybody is more responsible for their team winning and losing than Lamar Jackson.”
It’s early in the season, but Jackson’s ability to overcome a myriad of injuries, especially to his offensive line, could give him the extra push needed to capture his second MVP trophy in three years.