It took 15 years for a quarterback dynamic enough to finally break one of Michael Vick’s most notable records. Fortunately for the Baltimore Ravens, Lamar Jackson is that dynamic a quarterback.
Jackson set a new NFL mark during Baltimore’s 42-38 defeat to the Miami Dolphins in Week 2. In the process, Jackson eclipsed a record established by former Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers dual-threat sensation Vick.
The former record-holder has reacted to Jackson’s accomplishment and placed the achievement in context.
Vick Offers Take on Jackson’s Record
The key play in setting the record was Jackson’s 79-yard touchdown run in the third quarter against the Dolphins. Vick broke down the play for The 33rd Team, while also saying “It’s amazing to see such a phenomenal player breaking records that I set 15 years ago. He’s doing it (now) when defenses are at their best.”
It’s easy to debate that last sentence about defenses being at their best. Today’s rules favor offensive explosions more than at any other time in league history.
What’s more interesting about both Vick’s analysis and Jackson’s spectacular score is the nature of the play. Vick described it as a “designed run all the way.”
He highlighted how left guard Kevin Zeitler “pulls into the A-gap (to) take care of the Mike.” Zeitler moved while tight end Mark Andrews and fullback Patrick Ricard, playing as a wing, sealed defenders at the linebacker level.
The fact the Ravens used a designed run for their franchise quarterback was telling because of the risks involved. Designed QB runs and their efficacy have become a topic for heated debate after San Francisco 49ers starter Trey Lance broke his ankle on a planned run against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2.
It didn’t take long for 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan to become the brunt of criticism for exposing his QB1 to more hits. Shanahan responded by citing the Buffalo Bills’ usage of Josh Allen to defend his strategy with Lance.
Allen is a special talent who could be the exception to almost every rule about how quarterbacks should operate. Jackson is the same, although for slightly different reasons.
While Allen is a 6’5″, 237-pound battering ram who can overpower defenders between the tackles and absorb the extra punishment, Jackson gashes defenses in a different way, a way Vick can appreciate.
Vick Cites Similar Skills in Jackson
Jackson’s game on the ground is all about speed, something Vick pinpointed when he said “Not too many teams can say they have a second running back on the field that runs a 4.3 40, and Lamar is just that.”
Vick called what Jackson did a “rare talent for a quarterback,” and the former should know. Defenses weren’t ready for Vick’s track speed and natural elusiveness when he entered the league as the first-overall pick in 2001.
His multi-purpose talents took the Falcons to the playoffs in his second season, but it wasn’t until Jim Mora replaced Dan Reeves as head coach and hired Greg Knapp and zone-blocking guru Alex Gibbs that Vick’s rushing ability went to another level.
He rushed for 902 yards in 2004, helping the Falcons reach the NFC Championship Game. Two years later, Vick became the first quarterback in league history to top 1,000 yards as a runner.
Jackson joined him after an even better rushing effort during his MVP campaign in 2019. Again, designed runs were a big part of his success, per PFF:
Vick also had Jackson for company when the Ravens’ signal-caller matched another rare feat a year later, according to NFL Research:
Jackson and Vick are so often connected because of their playing styles. It helps the Ravens are smart enough to keep Jackson running, despite the risk of injuries.
The risk shows up in the game logs that reveal Jackson’s never completed a full season since entering the pros in 2018. Yet, the same risk is mitigated by how effectively the Ravens’ offense operates when Jackson is on the move.
As Vick put it, Jackson has a “rare talent,” and the Ravens wisely refuse to let it go to waste.