Ravens

These Week 1 stats prove how elite a passer Lamar Jackson is

Ravens

Lamar Jackson is an excellent passing quarterback.

You wouldn't think this is a controversial statement when examining his stats across the first two seasons (plus one game) of his career. But for some reason, national analysts spent all offseason claiming that Jackson still has a lot to prove when it comes to throwing the ball. 

Experts asked if he could throw without the threat of a strong running game. They questioned his deep ball accuracy. They mentioned his name in the same sentence as Tim freaking Tebow.

After the Ravens' Week 1 demolition of the Browns, many of those same analysts are already singing a different tune about the quarterback whom they somehow thought won the NFL MVP unanimously without being a great passer.

It's easy enough to find Jackson's stat line from Sunday's stellar performance: 20-for-25, 275 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions. Passer rating of 152.1, Total QBR of 94.1 and 11.0 yards per attempt, all NFL-leading numbers. But let's take a look at some of the more advanced stats that further prove just how crazy any remaining Jackson doubters really are.

A lot of folks assume Jackson is only able to throw accurately thanks to his ridiculous athleticism, getting out of the pocket and taking advantage when defenses break down. But both PFF and Sports Info Solutions show that he's among the best of the best when it comes to pure, traditional passing out of the pocket.

Even on good old-fashioned dropbacks, Jackson was the best in the league.

 

Another stat from PFF shows just how singular Jackson was on Sunday - again, as a passer only.

Jackson's performance combined throwing deep and throwing accurately better than any other quarterback in Week 1. The Ravens talked about Jackson throwing deep more all offseason, and it's already paid dividends in Week 1.

In fact, according to NextGen stats, Jackson's completion percentage over expected (how many more passes did you complete than an average quarterback would be expected to complete given time to throw, how the receiver was covered, etc.) was 15.8, easily the second-highest in the NFL. And the only player ahead of him, Gardner Minshew, had half the air yards as Jackson.

In other words, he was attempting much deeper, more difficult passes than the only quarterback who was more accurate than him.

This isn't the first time Jackson has set the NFL world on fire with his passing alone. While his jaw-dropping running ability earns him plenty of headlines, his passing stats have been historic. He was the most accurate 21-year old passer in NFL history, and that was before his breakout MVP campaign.

And now, Jackson already has the most games with 3+ passing touchdowns and a rating of 150+ in his first three seasons in NFL history. As a reminder, he still has 15 games to go in his third season. And didn't start the first nine games of his rookie campaign. And missed the equivalent of two full games during his second season sitting on the bench thanks to blowouts and the Ravens already clinching playoff seeding.

Oh, and who leads all NFL quarterbacks in games with 3+ passing touchdowns since the start of last season? Not Patrick Mahomes. Not Drew Brees. Not Russell Wilson. Not Tom Brady.

Lamar Jackson.

At the end of the day, the simplest way to explain Jackson's dominance with his arm is this: the Ravens as a team had their lowest rushing total in any of Jackson's starts in his career in Week 1 against the Browns. The advanced analytics back this up, ranking the Ravens' rushing performance as the fourth-worst in the entire NFL on Sunday. There was no threat of him rushing all afternoon.

And he still posted 38 points, sixth-most of his young career, without even finishing in yet another blowout victory.

You already knew Lamar Jackson's special running ability made him an elite, MVP-winning quarterback. His legs are generational. But the stats are clear: he has an elite, MVP-winning arm, too.