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The Evolution of Baltimore Ravens Quarterback Lamar Jackson

Third-year player won't shy away from running the football.

Lamar Jackson's ability to run with the football makes him stand out among other quarterbacks, yet his 36 touchdown passes last season proves he's anything but one-dimensional.

Jackson set an NFL record for yards rushing by a quarterback in 2019, a feat that enabled him to garner the league's MVP trophy and guide the Ravens to 12 straight wins to close the regular season.

Though his legs were instrumental to Baltimore's success, Jackson knows his arm must also be a difference-maker. Run or throw, he has no preference in his effort to achieve the desired result.

"To be honest, it really doesn't matter, as long as it's going to help us win the game," Jackson said about his forays downfield with the football tucked under his arm. "But I doubt that I am going to be carrying the ball a lot going further into the future because we have dynamic running backs and even more receivers."

A year ago, Jackson was known primarily for his prowess running the football. His ability as a passer was relatively uncertain until he opened the 2019 season by throwing for 324 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions for a perfect 158.3 QB rating in a 59-10 victory over the Dolphins.

"Not bad for a running back," he declared in the aftermath of a rout that launched Baltimore's brilliant 14-2 season.


Jackson is coming off one of the most successful regular seasons by any quarterback in NFL history. He completed 265 of 401 passes for 3,127 yards and an NFL-high 36 touchdowns, which was also a franchise record. 

Jackson finished with 1,206 yards rushing — sixth-best in the league and the most by a quarterback in NFL single-season history.

He is the only quarterback in NFL history to produce at least 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a season. He is also just the third quarterback in league history to produce at least 35 passing touchdowns and seven rushing touchdowns in a season, joining Steve Young (1994) and Cam Newton (2015).

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Jackson became just the second player in NFL history to win the NFL's Most Valuable Player by a unanimous vote, joining Tom Brady in 2010. He is also the youngest quarterback to win the award at age 23. 

Where does he need to improve?

"Just like last year, I want to work on everything," he said. "Whether it's running, passing, out-breaking routes and deep passes. I feel like we need to hit a lot more deep passes than we did last year. We had a lot of production, and we were a better team than from the year before, I feel, at least offensively. 

"Quarantine is slowing down everything right now. I can't get with my guys to be working on timing our routes and stuff like that, so that's a big part right now," he said. 

Jackson's meteoric rise also has made him one of the NFL's most popular players. He'll be on the cover of EA Sports’ “Madden 21" when released later this year. He accidentally let that news slip out in a Zoom call with the media before the official announcement from the company. 

The Ravens have also done their best to give Jackson more weapons. They've selected four wide receivers in the past two drafts. There has also been speculation the team might consider adding Antonio Brown after a video surfaced of Jackson working out with the mercurial wide receiver. 

"I'd be happy if we signed him," Jackson said. "He's a great player, he shows it each and every year. … But it's not my decision."

Jackson, however, has lost both of the playoff games of his young career. His goal is to remedy that shortcoming this upcoming season.

"In the NFL, the Super Bowl is the biggest thing, the biggest accomplishment to me, and that's what I want," he said. "I want to be able to lift my teammates to being the best in the world at that time. So, that's what I'm going to do."