We’ve never seen anything like Lamar Jackson.
Yes, that includes Mike Vick.
Jackson is the best running quarterback in NFL history. Better than Fran Tarkenton. Steve Young. Bobby Douglass. Cam Newton. Randall Cunningham.
Vick has been the standard bearer for running quarterbacks, the athletic freak who was the fastest player on the field and had the arm to throw it 70 yards downfield. Vick’s legacy changed with the dogfighting scandal. But as a player? His highlight reel was unmatched.
Until Jackson, the Heisman Trophy winner from Louisville, came into the NFL.
Let’s take a moment to recognize the ridiculousness of Jackson’s running ability. On a touchdown we’re going to see for a long, long time, Jackson had one of the prettiest spin moves this side of Barry Sanders. Bengals linebacker Nick Vigil, a good player, looked foolish as he corkscrewed into the ground. Vigil toppled into a couple teammates to take them out of the play and Jackson was off to a 47-yard touchdown. That was the highlight of a 49-13 win.
Lamar Jackson scored a touchdown here pic.twitter.com/hExyvmcOAW
— Andrew Joseph (@AndyJ0seph) November 10, 2019
Jackson would have easily had 100 yards rushing had the Bengals been more competitive, but the Ravens could take it easy on their star quarterback Sunday. Jackson was pulled early in the fourth quarter of the blowout. He finished with 65 yards and two touchdowns on seven rushing attempts.
Oh, and Jackson had a perfect 158.3 passer rating on Sunday too. He’s the first quarterback to post two perfect passer ratings – with at least 17 passing attempts – in one season, having also done so in Week 1 against Miami. No big deal.
Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) joins Aaron Rodgers (2019) and HOF Joe Montana (1989) as the only players to record 3+ pass TD, 1+ rush TD and a perfect passer rating with at least 15 completions in a single game in the Super Bowl era.#BALvsCIN | #RavensFlock
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) November 10, 2019
When you’re on the same list as Aaron Rodgers and Joe Montana, you can wear shades on the bench as your team finishes a blowout win.
Make no mistake, Jackson is the first of his kind. Over 100 seasons of NFL football, no team has purposely built a successful offense around the quarterback’s running ability first. Douglass came the closest. He had 142 rushing attempts in 1972 for the Chicago Bears and that stood as the record for more than 40 years, though Newton came close a few times. Now Jackson is obliterating what we think of rushing quarterbacks.
Jackson broke Douglass’ NFL record for rushing attempts last season despite starting only seven games. The revolution had started.
Jackson is going to destroy the records for rushing attempts and yards by a quarterback this season. He is on pace for 188 attempts and 1,248 yards. Vick has the single-season record for a quarterback with 1,039 yards, and Jackson might pass that before December. He’ll beat his own record of 147 rushing attempts. Jackson is also on pace for 12 rushing touchdowns, putting him within shouting distance of Newton’s record, which is 14.
The beauty of Jackson is he’s not a college wishbone quarterback who can’t throw the ball. He is progressing very well as a passer. He threw three touchdowns against the Bengals. His 49-yard pass to Marquise Brown on the opening play of the game set the tone. Too many people buried his passing ability after he struggled for the first three quarters of a playoff loss to the Los Angeles Chargers last season, never acknowledging he was a rookie in his first playoff game. It was reasonable to think he’d progress as a passer in year two, and he has.
Jackson is a good passer. He’s an otherworldly runner. Vick was splashier, with his magnificent speed making him a touchdown threat any time he dropped back to pass. If Vick saw a crease, there wasn’t much the defense could do about it. But Jackson is a more consistent runner. If you didn’t notice him wearing No. 8, you’d believe he was a running back by trade. And one of the best in the league, at that. Vick was more exciting. Jackson is a better runner, and a better quarterback overall.
For decades, we had a basic template for what an NFL quarterback should be: tall, big arm, operates from the pocket. There had been dual-threat quarterbacks before Jackson, but not one who would ever threaten 200 carries. Most teams want a quarterback who can lead the franchise for 10-15 years, and it’s hard to imagine Jackson being that. Running this much will take a toll, like it has on Newton. But the Ravens are going to get however many thrilling, great seasons they can out of Jackson.
What they’re getting now is something we’ve never seen before. Jackson is front and center in the MVP race. And the Ravens look like a potential Super Bowl contender.
Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 10 of the NFL season:
Mitchell Trubisky, for now: Turning all the TVs off at Halas Hall must have helped.
Trubisky won’t have to hear calls for his job for at least one week. Trubisky started terribly against a bad Detroit Lions defense, but then heated up. Trubisky was 3-of-6 for 15 yards on the Bears’ first four drives and it looked like Jeff Driskel could have been the best quarterback in Sunday’s game. But Trubisky rallied in the Bears’ 20-13 victory.
A nice touchdown pass at the end of the first half got him going. He continued to produce in the second half and the Bears pulled away from a Lions team that missed Matthew Stafford.
Trubisky wasn’t prolific, with just 173 yards, but he had three touchdowns and no interceptions. There will be a week of peace.
Dan Quinn: We have beat up Quinn in this space all season, so it’s fair to give him some time to shine.
The Falcons absolutely dominated the New Orleans Saints 26-9 on Sunday. Didn’t see that coming, right? The Saints were shut down by a defense that had been awful all season. The Falcons had one of the worst pass rushes in the league before Sunday, but their sixth sack on Drew Brees came on a fourth down that clinched the win. Quinn had said this week that the Falcons, after the bye, were entering a new season. That motivational ploy worked. Their season is still a highly disappointing one, but a huge win over their biggest rivals helps.
The Falcons had resisted firing Quinn when they started 1-7 and the entire football world was waiting for a move. That move still might happen after the season. But Quinn will have at least one highlight from a nightmare season.
Jamal Adams, still helping the Jets: Adams was in the middle of a public controversy when it was reported the Jets had trade talks that included his name. Adams wasn’t happy about it.
The Jets should be happy they didn’t move Adams. He’s one of the best in the game, and he made the signature play in the Jets’ win over the Giants on Sunday.
Adams simply took the ball from Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. It’s the type of play that doesn’t happen too often in the NFL. He stole the ball, turned and ran for a 25-yard touchdown. The Jets beat the Giants 34-27 in the battle of New York.
Adams and the Jets might be uncomfortable partners for a while, after the reports of trade talks. But if the Jets are smart they’ll smooth it over and lock up Adams for a long time. He’s a good one.
Indianapolis Colts: If you want to go to the playoffs, you can’t lose to the Miami Dolphins at home. It doesn’t matter who your quarterback is. Simple as that.
The Colts will regret a 16-12 loss to the Dolphins. Miami has played better in recent weeks, but the Colts still should have won, even with Brian Hoyer replacing injured Jacoby Brissett. But Hoyer was awful, the offense didn’t go anywhere, Adam Vinatieri’s nightmare season continued, and the Colts fell to 5-4.
The gains the Colts made early in the season, right after Andrew Luck retired, have been mostly given back. They dropped a heartbreaker last week at Pittsburgh on a late Vinatieri miss. They couldn’t get in the end zone late against the Dolphins, with Hoyer throwing short of the first-down line to Eric Ebron on a fourth down in the final minute.
The Colts could still rally and win the AFC South, or even get a wild card. If they don’t, it’s probably because they dropped a game to the Dolphins at home.
NFL officiating again, this time in Cards-Bucs: It’s not the worst thing for the NFL to not reverse most pass interference calls (or non-calls) on review. Nobody would have signed up for officials breaking down each play frame-by-frame looking for interference.
But there’s no good explanation for what happened at the end of the Buccaneers-Cardinals game.
The Cardinals threw to Pharoh Cooper on their final play, trailing 30-27. Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean got there early, hitting Cooper in the back. There was no call, which isn’t the most egregious error. It was a close play. But there was also no review. That’s troubling.
The NFL should have the same set of transparency standards it has for its coaches and players. Bucs coach Bruce Arians complained about that earlier this season. The NFL should have an official immediately explain why it wasn’t reviewed. Had it been reviewed, an official should explain the ruling. That’s not too much to ask. That non-call could have changed who won the game.
Officiating in the NFL is hard. There will always be mistakes. But the league could do itself a favor by explaining its decision-making process more often.
The Chiefs maligned defense: Patrick Mahomes was back on Sunday, and looked like vintage Mahomes.
Unfortunately, the Chiefs defense looked familiar too.
Needing a stop at the end to beat the Tennessee Titans, the Chiefs let Ryan Tannehill beat them. Tannehill completed a 23-yard touchdown to Adam Humphries with 23 seconds left to cap a four-play, 61-yard drive that took less than a minute. Tannehill ran over safety Juan Thornhill at the goal line on the two-point conversion, which summed up the Chiefs’ day on defense. The Titans won 35-32 when Harrison Butker’s 52-yard field-goal attempt was blocked (maybe with a non-call on an offisdes helping out the Titans).
The Chiefs are dealing with injuries on both sides of the ball. But as teams like the Ravens are taking steps forward as Super Bowl contenders and the Oakland Raiders are winning games in the AFC West, the Chiefs defense continues to be a question mark.
Buffalo Bills: For weeks, the Bills have been questioned. They’ve gotten fat on a soft schedule. Advanced stats aren’t high on them. They were beaten at home by the Patriots and Eagles. A 6-2 start seemed a little counterfeit.
After losing to the Browns, the skepticism will continue.
The Bills took a fourth-quarter lead at Cleveland, then the defense couldn’t hold. The Browns drove all the way downfield and Baker Mayfield — who needed something to go right this season — tossed a go-ahead touchdown pass to Rashard Higgins. Then Stephen Hauschka missed a long field goal and the Browns won 19-16.
The Bills’ schedule is still weak down the stretch, so it seems like they’ll be a wild-card team. But there will be plenty of people wondering how good they really are.
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