Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson may have had the worst game of his season on Thursday night against the Miami Dolphins, but Tim Tebow doesn’t think his MVP stock has taken a substantial hit.
“I think he’s absolutely in a great position for the MVP. He’s dominated the entire year,” said Tebow of Jackson during an appearance on ESPN’s First Take on Friday.
With the sixth-most passing yards and fourth-most rushing yards in the NFL, Jackson’s contributions to the Ravens’ offense are truly one of a kind. He’s also added a knack for coming through in high-leverage situations, leading three double-digit comebacks in the second half this season.
But he couldn’t do it a fourth time after going down by 12 points in Miami on Thursday after a Sammy Watkins fumble was returned for a touchdown by Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard. The turnover was part of a rough night for the Ravens’ offense, who had trouble handling Miami’s blitzes all night and looked utterly unprepared for such an aggressive defense.
“Were they out-schemed? Absolutely. Did Miami have a great gameplan? Yes, it’s the NFL, sometimes that happens,” said Tebow, who spent three seasons in the NFL after winning the Heisman Trophy as a Florida Gator.
But Tebow noted that other MVP contenders, like Matthew Stafford of the Los Angeles Rams, have had bad games this season as well.
“I just don’t think this game mattered that much,” said Tebow, “People are going to remember December and January way more than they remember the second week of November.”
Blitz-Beaters Needed in Baltimore
Jackson will need to adapt to the all-out blitzes that he will certainly face for the rest of the season. Future opponents will use Miami’s tactics as a long-sought-after blueprint to stop Jackson, who has tortured NFL defenders ever since his rookie season in 2018.
It won’t all be on Jackson, though; offensive coordinator Greg Roman will need to find a way to design and call plays that can beat blitzes. Getting healthy will also go a long way in Baltimore, with two of the team’s best blockers expected to return from injury at some point this season.
If the Ravens can put it all together, Jackson would still be a frontrunner to win his second MVP.
“If he gets back on track, if [the Ravens] get back on track, he still controls it,” Tebow concluded.
Stephen A. Smith Weighs In
But Stephen A. Smith, who has refused to get behind Jackson all season, thinks that Jackson’s MVP campaign is “in grave jeopardy.”
“You can’t lost to a 2-7 team devoid of any kind of offense whatsoever,” said Smith, though he admitted it wasn’t entirely Jackson’s fault:
“I applaud John Harbaugh for taking the brunt of the blame because they clearly were ill-prepared, there’s no question about that. You had corner blitzes all over the place, that seemed to be something totally foreign to them. Miami’s defense didn’t change their look at all. Nevertheless, Baltimore didn’t make any necessary adjustments, and as a result, they lose this game and being held to 10 points in the process.”
Smith still thinks that Jackson’s inability to respond to Miami’s Cover 0 blitzes “is going to be held against him” during MVP voting.
“People are going to point to this game when they’re judging you agains’t the other great dudes in the league for that coveted trophy,” Smith continued.
Smith listed Matt Stafford, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers as his main candidates for MVP, taking Josh Allen out of contention for the same reason as Jackson: one bad game.
For what it’s worth, Stafford struggled against the Tennessee Titans last week, throwing two interceptions and taking five sacks in the Rams’ second loss of the season. Rodgers’ refusal to get vaccinated has cost the Green Bay Packers at least one game, as well as $300,000 in fines for breach of COVID protocol.
That only leaves Brady, and even he threw two interceptions in a loss to the New Orleans Saints last week.
Ultimately, this MVP race is wide open, and anyone, including and especially Jackson, is capable of taking over for the rest of the season.