OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As it stands heading into Week 17, Lamar Jackson appears to be the NFL’s consensus pick for Most Valuable Player. 

He’s put up historic numbers and led the Ravens to a 13-2 record before the season’s final week. Because of that, he won’t play against the Steelers on Sunday in order to rest himself for the playoffs. 

Meaning, Jackson’s regular season is over after he led the Ravens to a 13-2 record. He had a completion percentage of 66.1, threw for 3,127 yards and 36 touchdowns, threw six interceptions, He rushed for 1,206 yards — an NFL record for a quarterback, ran for seven scores, totaled 4,333 total yards and only turned the ball over eight times.

But as compared to previous MVP’s, those numbers surprisingly aren’t exactly the most eye-popping. 

The last non-quarterback to win the MVP award in the NFL was Adrian Peterson in 2012, when he rushed for 2,097 yards. Before that, the last MVP that didn’t play quarterback was LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006. 

And when compared to MVP winners since Peterson’s 2012 campaign, Jackson’s numbers actually fall a bit short when looked at through the MVP lens.


Here are the previous MVP’s major statistics in their award-winning years:

  • 2018: Patrick Mahomes: 12-4 record, 66.03 percent completion percentage, 5,097 passing yards, 50 passing touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 272 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns. 5,369 total yards, 52 total touchdowns and 14 turnovers.
  • 2017: Tom Brady: 13-3 record, 66.27 completion percentage, 4,577 passing yards, 32 passing touchdowns, eight interceptions, 28 rushing yards, zero rushing touchdowns, 4,605 total yards, 32 total touchdowns and 11 turnovers.
  • 2016: Matt Ryan: 11-5 record, 69.85 completion percentage, 4,944 passing yards, 38 passing touchdowns, seven interceptions, 117 rushing yards, zero rushing touchdowns, 5,061 total yards, 38 total touchdowns and nine turnovers.
  • 2015: Cam Newton: 15-1 record, 59.8 completion percentage, 3,837 passing yards, 35 passing touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 636 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns, 4,473 total yards, 45 total touchdowns and 14 turnovers.
  • 2014: Aaron Rodgers: 12-4 record, 65.58 completion percentage, 4,381 passing yards, 38 passing touchdowns, five interceptions, 269 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, 4,650 total yards and seven turnovers.
  • 2013: Peyton Manning: 13-3 record, 68.29 completion percentage, 5,477 yards passing, 55 passing touchdowns, 10 interceptions, -31 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, 5,446 total yards and 16 total turnovers.

Jackson, of those six MVP winners, would rank fourth in completion percentage, last in passing yards, fifth in passing touchdowns, second in interceptions, first in rushing yards, second in rushing touchdowns, last in total yards and second in turnovers. 


But while his numbers aren’t as eye-popping as first thought, there are two important points when considering his candidacy for MVP:

To start, Jackson isn’t going to play in his final game of the season to boost his numbers. That would help him, when comparing his numbers to former award winners, as he has just two fewer touchdown passes than Rodgers in 2014 and Ryan in 2016 and is just a little over 100 yards away from surpassing Newton’s 2015 season for total yards. 

Secondly, Jackson was rested a significant amount during the Ravens’ season, due to the lead they had on their opponents. If he’d played those quarters, it’s only fair to assume that his numbers would be further inflated. 

Should Jackson have played all 16 games, he was on pace for 3,335 yards passing, 38 passing touchdowns, six interceptions, 1,286 rushing yards, seven rushing touchdowns, 4,621 total yards and eight turnovers. 

And while there’s still some doubt as to Jackson’s place as the MVP front-runner, little can be said against Jackson’s case when it comes to how valuable he was to the Ravens as a team.

Jackson carried the Ravens all season, and if it weren’t for him, the Ravens certainly wouldn’t have the option to rest their starting quarterback in Week 17.