Lamar Jackson hasn’t lost much in the NFL.
If his playoff performances are included, he’s 21-5 as the Ravens’ starter. As a regular season starter, he’s 21-3 and has won his last 12 regular season games.
His biggest obstacle, however, remains in the way.
Two of Jackson’s regular season losses have come to the Chiefs, and by extension, star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. As two of the league’s biggest stars, there’s an easy line to draw between the two franchise quarterbacks. But for now, Jackson doesn’t see it that way.
“I don’t have to focus on Mahomes, I gotta focus on their defense, I gotta focus on scoring,” Jackson said Thursday. “I gotta focus on my job in making my offense do our thing. Our defense gotta worry about him and their offense.”
The parallels between Jackson and Mahomes are easy to see.
Both joined their teams as backups with established starters already at the quarterback position. And both, in their first year as a starter and second year in the league, won MVP with dazzling statistical and on-field performances.
Mahomes led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory over the 49ers in February and was rewarded with a $500 million contract this summer. Jackson appears to be on the same track.
So when Monday Night Football rolls into Baltimore next week, the matchup will be billed as a clash between two of the league’s youngest and most marketable stars. Jackson isn’t concerned about that.
“I don’t think (there’s) any more pressure than Lamar puts on himself all the time,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s the same Lamar week in, week out, play in, play out, from meeting to meeting. He’s always excited to play. I don't believe he looks at it like that, I think he’s looking at it like, ‘Our offense against their defense.’ That’s what he’s focusing on and trying to find a way to put as many points as he can.”
And as far as matchups go, there’s likely not a better or more anticipated one than Monday’s game.
“Mahomes just signed for 10 years — whatever — 500 million, and (he’s an) MVP quarterback,” cornerback Marlon Humphrey said Wednesday. “And then we have Lamar. MVP, and he’ll be a Raven for life. So, with those two teams, I think when the NFL is picking out the schedule, they’ll always find a way to keep these two teams going at each other. When those two quarterbacks are on the field, it’s magic on both sides.
Still, the question of whether Jackson and the Ravens can get past Mahomes and Chiefs will persist for as long as the Ravens go winless against them.
Monday’s matchup will be a great showcase for the league on an exterior level, but for the Ravens and Jackson, it’s much more representative of where the team wants to get.
As the defending Super Bowl champions, the Chiefs represent everything the Ravens want to have. So while the Ravens know they’ve got to get by the Chiefs, they’re well aware that Monday may only be the beginning.
When asked about getting by the Chiefs, and if he knew the Ravens would have to go through them, Jackson was brief in his response.
“Yeah,” Jackson began. “Eventually.”