By the numbers, Lamar Jackson is an MVP candidate. 2,258 passing yards, 788 rushing yards, 25 combined touchdowns and an 8-2 record will do that.
By narrative, Lamar Jackson is an MVP candidate. Beating fellow candidates Russell Wilson by 14, Tom Brady by 17 and Deshaun Watson by 34 en route to an 8-2 record will do that.
By vote of his teammates, Lamar Jackson is the MVP. Period.
Just let Mark Ingram tell you.
“I would just like to introduce you all to the man, the myth, the legend, the MVP frontrunner...if anybody else got something different to say about that, then come see me,” the Ravens running back emphatically told reporters after the game. “I’m right here in B-more outside the Bank.”
Get you someone who hypes you up the way Mark Ingram does for Lamar Jackson😂💜 pic.twitter.com/YrHhWkWjZm— NBC Sports Ravens (@NBCSRavens) November 17, 2019
Ingram has been conducting the Lamar Jackson hype train all season long, pointing out how the man he calls “just a special player” continues to one-up himself each and every week.
It does feel like Jackson has to find some way to top himself each week, and somehow, he’s able to do it. At a certain point, we shouldn’t be surprised at how often we need to pick our jaws up off the floor.
What makes Jackson’s MVP run so interesting is who he’s beaten. It’s one thing to compare multiple players across a 16-week season, but Jackson has actually had the chance to face a number of his closest competitors.
Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson are both considered top-five candidates, with Wilson the prohibitive favorite. And yet Jackson has now beaten both by multiple touchdowns.
Furthermore, there’s not an argument to be made that Jackson is being carried by his team. Yes, Mark Ingram is enjoying a resurgence, and the offensive line is playing as well as it ever has. But the front office specifically built this team around Lamar Jackson and his skillset, and it’s paying more dividends than they could have ever imagined this quickly.
Seth Roberts, who caught his first touchdown of the season against the Texans, has his own nickname for Jackson.
“I call him Freaky-L,” Roberts said after the game. “You know he can do anything out there. He’s just freaky, and we’re on the ship with him. I’ve never seen anything like Freaky-L. I texted Freaky-L on Instagram before he got drafted. I told him, ‘you’re legit, man.’ He can do anything on the field. He’s a freak.”
Given how well he’s played, the records he’s setting, the team’s record, who specifically they’ve beaten, and how vital he’s been to the Ravens’ success, there’s very little case to be made for anyone other than Jackson for the MVP through Week 11. The MVP is a narrative award, and Lamar Jackson has been *the* storyline of the 2019 NFL season.
Even Deshaun Watson, the fellow MVP candidate who failed to score a touchdown for the first time in his NFL career Sunday, has to admit what Jackson is doing is on another level.
When asked about swapping jerseys with Jackson, Watson told reporters he wrote, “Always love, keep grinding and MVP.”
When your stiffest competition is anointing you with the league’s premier award, you’re having a terrific season.
Linebacker Tyus Bowser, also fully supportive of Jackson, does point out the cloud hanging over all of this MVP talk. The season still has a lot of football left.
“We still have plenty of weeks to go, and whatever happens happens,” he explained.
Of course, the MVP award isn’t the most important thing to Jackson’s teammates.
“Lamar is going to continue to lead us,” Bowser continued. “And that’s all that matters.”
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