At only 24 years old, Jackson is on pace to becoming the best dual-threat quarterback in NFL history, and his accomplishments make it difficult to counter that notion. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

By Demetrius Dillard
Special to the AFRO

Here it is, only four weeks into the NFL season, and pundits are already asserting that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson deserves recognition in the MVP conversation.

Heroic performances by the fourth-year player carried Ravens to hard-fought victories over high-caliber opponents like the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos. His playmaking ability, whether it be scintillating rushes on the ground or well-calculated passes, Jackson has officially put the league on notice for the 2021 season.

At only 24 years old, Jackson is on pace to becoming the best dual-threat quarterback in NFL history, and his accomplishments make it difficult to counter that notion. A few weeks ago he set his latest career milestone, amassing 3,000 career rushing yards in 48 games to become the fastest player to reach that mark, edging Michael Vick, who did so in 61 games.

During Jackson’s MVP campaign in the 2019 season, he rushed for 1,206 yards which was the highest ever in a single season by a quarterback.  Last year, he rushed for 1,005 yards to become the lone NFL quarterback to ever register two 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

“He’s the true definition of a dual-threat quarterback,” wrote SB Nation’s Kyle Barber. “He elevates everybody around him and defenses have yet to consistently contain him both as a passer and runner.”

While Jackson boasts a list of additional accomplishments and records, there are still a number of naysaying contrarians who are constantly in denial of his football skill and acumen, deciding to direct more of their attention to interceptions than anything else.

Yet, the great White quarterbacks seen as NFL legends, including Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning, threw as many picks, if not more, than Jackson did early in their careers but didn’t catch near the amount of condemnation. But hey, that comes along with being a Black quarterback.

Jackson, along with the numerous Black quarterbacks excelling in the NFL now, are in a decision-making position historically occupied by White men so it comes as no surprise that he’s had to face the harsh realities of imbalanced criticism expressed with racial undertones.

He doesn’t let the noise affect him, though.

“It’s going to always be noise. You just gotta block it out and play football,” Jackson said in response to those who say he can’t throw. He easily disproved that notion after recording 316 yards and a touchdown on 22-of-37 passing, leading the Ravens to a 23-7 win over the Broncos on Oct. 3.

Throughout the course of his career, the Ravens signal caller has seemed to have given opposing defenses the most trouble with his foot speed and riveting touchdown scampers, but he’s a “dual threat” for a reason. Jackson said it out of his own mouth: “I prefer to pass.”

“I’d rather pass for a touchdown than run it,” he said.

Deadspin’s Chuck Modiano made a noteworthy observation about Jackson that has seemingly been overlooked. 

In his recent article “Lamar Jackson’s FIRST 1000 passes mark NFL’s greatest QB start ever — seriously” Modiano argues that Jackson has exhibited historic quarterback production over a short time span, using his fist 1,000 pass attempts as a metric to rank him among the best at his position while debunking misguided assessments.

Modiano was critical of Pro Football Focus, a sports site that disseminates thorough analyses of the NFL and NCAA football, addressing three levels of Jackson’s greatness: (1) passing production, (2) rushing production and (3) team impact.

“It’s historic just by itself. When compared with QB greats at FIRST 1,000 passes, Lamar is top-5 in NFL passer rating; touchdowns; and TD-to-INT ratio (3.5) which also ranks 3rd all-time after Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers,” Modiano highlighted.

Modiano’s comparative analysis juxtaposed Jackson’s achievements at this stage of his career with other NFL icons during the Super Bowl era. Using extensive research, Modiano used four key points to evaluate Jackson’s performance:

  1. Jackson has the fifth-highest passer rating after his first 1,000 passes (Patrick Mahomes – 109.2; Kurt Warner – 105.6; Deshaun Watson – 104.3; Dan Marino – 102.5; Jackson – 101.9)
  2. Jackson has the most touchdown passes after first 1,000 passes (Dan Marino – 75 TDs, 26 interceptions; Kurt Warner – 73 TDs, 34 interceptions;  Patrick Mahomes – 71 TDs, 16 interceptions;  Lamar Jackson -70 TDs, 20 interceptions)
  3. Jackson has the fifth-fewest interceptions after 1,000 pass attempts
  4. Jackson is the best rushing QB ever in his first 1,000 throws (league-best 3,099 rushing yard in 39 starts)

In the past six years, two regular-season MVPs were Black quarterbacks (Cam Newton in 2015 and Jackson in 2019).

“With rare exception, when Black QBs throw INTs like or Sam Darnold, they might soon be out of the NFL like Vince or Cam. For Black QBs, having high TD-to-INT ratios aren’t just nice stats — they’re job requirements,” Modiano concluded, also revealing Jackson’s true touchdown-to-interception ratio of 4.55.

“Lamar Jackson is only 24 years old, and just posted the greatest FIRST 1,000 Pass start in modern quarterback history.”

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