BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The second season of Lamar Jackson’s career has been revelatory. An offensive scheme designed around Jackson’s strengths by offensive coordinator Greg Roman and his continued improvement as a passer has catapulted the 22-year-old into the conversation for Most Valuable Player.
Following Sunday’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Jackson has now started 16 games in his career dating back to last season when he took over for Joe Flacco. That equates to one full NFL regular season and Jackson’s numbers over that time frame compare quite favorably to some of the NFL’s greats according to ESPN researcher Paul Hembekides.
After crunching the numbers, Hembekides determined that after his first 16 games, Jackson has more wins (13) than Kansas City Chiefs phenom Patrick Mahomes did in the same time period (12); more rush yards (1,258) than San Diego Chargers legend LaDainian Tomlinson ran for over his first 16 games (1,236); a better passer rating (94.4) than New England Patriots’ future Hall of Famer Tom Brady had (90.1); more yards per pass attempt (7.6) than another future HOFer in Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (7.5); and a greater completion percentage (63%) than the New Orleans Saints’ future HOFer Drew Brees through his first 16 games (61%).
First 16 career starts
Lamar Jackson (13)
Patrick Mahomes (12)
Lamar Jackson (1,258)
LaDainian Tomlinson (1,236)
Lamar Jackson (94.4)
Tom Brady (90.1)
Yds per Att
Lamar Jackson (7.6)
Aaron Rodgers (7.5)
Lamar Jackson (63%)
Drew Brees (61%)
— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) November 11, 2019
Mahomes, of course, won the league’s MVP award last year after an explosive first year as a starter for Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs. While wins are a team stat and quarterbacks often get too much credit, it’s interesting to see the comparison between the two. What is more surprising is the passer rating, yards per attempt and completion percentage numbers.
Now, the numbers for those three guys can be taken with a slight grain of salt as the game has opened up more in recent years with rule changes that allow for an easier time for offenses. But, that doesn’t take away from what Jackson is currently doing.
The biggest knock on Jackson coming out in the draft was his passing ability. So to see him comparing favorably with some of the current greats to play the position is encouraging, particularly at this early stage of his development. And, what makes Jackson so dangerous, as teams throughout the league have found out, is his game-breaking rushing ability. 16 starts in, he has more rushing yards than one of the greatest running backs in league history.
The debate over Jackson’s true ceiling will undoubtedly continue, but one thing is for sure, he is playing at a level that compares favorably with some of the league’s best. He and the Ravens see another test this week when they face the Houston Texans and fellow MVP candidate Deshaun Watson.