Lamar Jackson has unquestionably been one of the most electric players this 2019 season. He has caused defensive coordinators to develop new schemes just to contain him. His insane dual-threat ability makes him one of the most dynamic quarterbacks the league has seen. He is drawing comparisons to Michael Vick, which is entirely fitting. But what has changed this year that has made him more successful than the previous? That is what will be looked at in why Lamar Jackson is overachieving in 2019.
Why Lamar Jackson is Overachieving in 2019
Lamar Jackson began the season with 10,000-1 odds to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award. However, he has quickly risen to the favorite by the end of week 11. He is now the lone standing leader in the NFL MVP race with 7-5 odds to bag the league’s most prestigious individual award. However, this did not come easy for Jackson. He had to go through many trials and tribulations in order to obtain the title as one of the league’s most illustrious quarterbacks.
In 2018, Lamar Jackson was merely a rookie backup quarterback to the declining Joe Flacco. The Ravens had faith in Flacco and his abilities to lead them to victory. The Ravens saw no reason to start Jackson while they had a super bowl winning quarterback under center. Head coach John Harbaugh had lots of confidence in the quarterback he had so much success with. However, the Ravens chose to go in a different direction at quarterback. Flacco led the Ravens to a four-win and five loss record through nine games in 2018. Following their Week 10 bye week, Jackson would be granted the keys to the team. This decision would pay off big.
Lamar Jackson would win six of the remaining seven games. The Raven’s only loss with Jackson at quarterback was to the red-hot Chiefs, in which they lost by only three. Jackson helped earn the Ravens a 10-6 record and leading them to the playoffs where they lost to the Chargers by six. However, there were many questions regarding the legitimacy of Jackson as a star quarterback.
Why People Were Skeptical
Lamar Jackson was heavily scrutinized for his passing abilities. He was clearly a gifted athlete in the running department. However, he was less successful in the passing game. Many questioned his decision making and accuracy. He only completed 58 percent of his passes in seven games, which raised some eyebrows. He also only had six touchdown passes in these seven games. His efficiency as a passer was just not there. What helped him as a quarterback was his rushing abilities. He averaged 99 rushing yards in these seven games. He also had five rushing scores.
Many critics said that Lamar Jackson would be better suited as a running back following his seven-game passing performances. However, Jackson had complete faith in his abilities as a quarterback. Jackson passed for 324 yards in his week one start in 2019. He completed an astonishing 17 of his 20 passes for an 85 percent completion rate. He also threw for five touchdowns in a 59-10 win against the Miami Dolphins. Following the game, Jackson would fire back at his critics by saying “not bad for a running back.”
Why He is Succeeding
There are many reasons that Lamar Jackson has had a breakout year. However, four aspects will be focused on. The most obvious one being that he is in his second season. Jackson earned a lot of question marks in his first season. However, he was merely a rookie. Jackson took the offseason to refine his game, and it shows. The second reason is that the offensive line has been dominant all season. Lamar Jackson has only been sacked around 1.9 times per game this season. In total, Jackson has been sacked only 18 times this year. This ranks the ravens in the top 10 in the league in this category.
The third reason behind Jackson’s success is an improvement as a passer. Defenses must scheme for an athletic, fast, and efficient passer now. If defenses send a blitz, Jackson can carve them up in the passing game. However, if defenses play man-to-man without a quarterback spy, this allows Jackson to escape the pocket and pick up yards at will. There is just no way to defend this kind of quarterback.
Lastly, one of the essential reasons behind Jackson’s success is the improvement at the running back position. Last season, Gus Edwards was the teams leading rusher with only 718 yards and two total touchdowns. However, the addition of Mark Ingram has been lethal. He has 667 rushing yards to go along with 4.9 yards per carry. He also has eight touchdowns this season. This makes the offense very two dimensional and nearly impossible to stop. This is why Lamar Jackson is overachieving in 2019.
Expect Lamar Jackson to continue to improve as the season goes on. Right now, he is leading the MVP race and expect it to finish that way. Also, he is ever-improving the odds of a super bowl berth. It is expected for the Patriots to make the AFC championship once again. However, do not be surprised if Lamar Jackson and the Ravens dethrone the reigning champs. After all, the Ravens did beat the once undefeated Patriots 37-20 earlier in the season.
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