Anyone who thought that NFL defenses could “figure out” Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson this season should probably think again after his third double-digit comeback in the second half this season.
Leaving the field on Sunday after overcoming a 14-point deficit to beat the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, fans at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore broke out in MVP chants for their franchise quarterback.
In fact, Jackson has played so well this season that former Dallas Cowboy and current ESPN analyst Marcus Spears compared him to NBA superstar Lebron James yesterday.
“This is the Lebron James effect…Lebron James could’ve been the league MVP for like nine years straight. Lamar Jackson is that,” said Spears, who noted that Jackson’s excellence is so consistent that he’s getting overlooked in the 2021 MVP race.
James has praised Jackson in the past, most recently during the Ravens’ Week 1 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Spears went on to make an even bolder claim:
“Lamar Jackson is not only the most valuable player in the NFL, he’s the best player in the NFL, because every team that walks into that stadium know that they have to stop Lamar Jackson in order to beat the Ravens, and can’t nobody do it, y’all! “At some point, we have to acknowledge the fact that this dude is the best football player in the NFL beyond the MVP. We know he’s the Most Valuable Player, because he’s team ain’t winning without him.”
Teams have had so much trouble stopping Jackson this season that they have resorted to calling the Ravens’ previous opponents to get extra intel on the elusive quarterback.
Ex-NFL Players Turned-Analysts Back Jackson for MVP
Spears’ fellow former NFL players and ESPN colleagues Dan Orlovsky and Ryan Clark both picked Jackson as their MVP yesterday, with Clark questioning Jackson’s 13-1 odds of winning the award.
“Who’s making the odds? Do they watch the game?” he asked, adding, “There is no more MVP-ish type performer than Lamar Jackson is right now. They only win if he plays excellent.”
Orlovsky agreed, noting “The Ravens this year are 3-1 when trailing by double digits. The rest of the NFL is 8-93 in that situation.”
Both argued that the Ravens would not have won several games this season without Jackson’s late-game heroics.
“They win football games they’re not supposed to because of him!” exclaimed Clark, while Orlovsky observed that ““The Ravens would literally be a one or two-win football team if not for Lamar Jackson.”
While Baltimore’s defense has dominated against the Denver Broncos and the Los Angeles Chargers, Jackson almost singlehandedly carried the Ravens to comeback victories against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Indianapolis Colts, as well as the Vikings on Sunday.
“Lamar Jackson will be at the top of my MVP list. He will remain there until he becomes the reason that their team doesn’t win a football game,” concluded Orlovsky.
Social Media Hypes Lamar
Still, Jackson isn’t always mentioned in MVP discussions for this season, despite his string of sterling performances.
NFL Gameday posted a graphic on Twitter today featuring four quarterbacks as MVP candidates, none of whom were Jackson, and received so many replies about the Ravens quarterback that they had to post another graphic just for him.
But his performance on Sunday earned him more attention on social media, especially after breaking another record previously held by Michael Vick.
Even more impressive is how Jackson outperformed two of the Vikings’ best players at two different positions. He finished with more rushing yards than two-time Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook and more passing yards than quarterback Kirk Cousins, who owns the third-highest passing grade from Pro Football Focus this season.
Jackson’s combination of excellence on the ground and through has him on a historic pace. He could become the first player in NFL history to finish with over 4,000 passing yards and over 1,000 rushing yards in a single season.
If Jackson maintain his ridiculous pace and the Ravens finish with a top-two seed in the AFC–they sit in second place right now–then Jackson certainly has to be in the running to win his second career MVP trophy.