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Similarities, differences between Lamar Jackson’s MVP seasons

The Ravens QB will undoubtedly be named NFL MVP for the 2023 regular season. How similar and different were his two MVP seasons? We investigate.

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images

Just one year ago, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson entered an offseason of uncertainty, as he jockeyed for a long-term contract with the organization. Fast forward to now and he has the team on the cusp of a Super Bowl appearance, as they will host the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.

Jackson has put together an electric campaign and it’s almost a foregone conclusion that he will claim the AP NFL Most Valuable Player award for the second time in his career. His first MVP season came during his sophomore campaign in 2019, an individual year so dominant that he joined Tom Brady as the only unanimous winners of the award in NFL history.

So how does this season stack up to his star-making 2019 MVP run? We’ll take a look below.

Lamar Jackson: 2019 vs. 2023

Passing

2019: 66.1%, 3,127 yards, 7.8 ypa, 36 touchdowns, six interceptions, 113.3 passer rating
2023: 67.2%, 3,678 yards, 8.0 ypa, 24 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 102.7 passer rating

Jackson put to bed any skepticism about his abilities as a passer in 2019, leading the league in passing touchdowns with 36. He had the third highest passer rating in the league and put these numbers up in 15 games.

Through 16 games in 2023, he set a career-high in both completion percentage and passing yards. He had significantly less passing TD’s, but that wasn’t required of him as the Ravens offense rolled through most of the season.

Rushing

2019: 176 carries, 1,206 yards, 6.9 ypc, seven touchdowns, nine fumbles
2023: 148 carries, 821 yards, 5.5 ypc, five touchdowns, 11 fumbles

Jackson’s 2019 campaign on the ground was the stuff of legend as he set the single-season QB rushing record. By averaging roughly seven yards per carry, he was deadly whenever he decided to use his legs.

He still led all QB’s in rushing in 2023, but didn’t have the same volume of runs he did in 2019. Considering that he’s coming off back-to-back years where he’s suffered season-ending injuries, he’s been more judicious about when he chooses to take off and run.

Clutch

2019: Two game-winning drives, one fourth-quarter comeback
2023: One fourth-quarter comeback

Both seasons only featured a few instances where Jackson had to come up big late in the fourth quarter. That’s simply a result of Baltimore’s dominance and having things under control in its victories. These two years pale in comparison to his 2021 campaign, where he racked up four 4QC/GWD’s.

Regular season team accolades

2019: 14-2 record, AFC North title, +249 point differential, Divisional round exit
2023: 13-4 record, AFC North title, +203 point differential, End result TBD

Jackson and the Ravens were dominant throughout his 2019 MVP campaign, rattled off 12 straight victories to end the season and leading the NFL in point differential. Unfortunately for them, they were one-and done in the playoffs as they were clipped by the Tennessee Titans in a Divisional round upset.

Jackson and the 2023 Ravens were also dominant throughout the regular season and once again led the NFL in point differential. One could make a case that they could’ve finished 16-1 as losses to the Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cleveland Browns came as a result of second-half blunders. This year’s team didn’t fall on their face in the Divisional round and are still in play for a spot in Super Bowl 58.

Verdict

Jackson went nuclear in 2019 and from a numbers standpoint, it is the better of his two MVP seasons. However, his command and control of the Ravens’ offense in 2023 can’t be quantified simply through counting stats and it’s why he has the team on the doorstep of the franchise’s third Super Bowl appearance.