Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson became the league MVP in only his second season. He has nowhere to go but down. He’s determined to keep going up.
“We had this conversation when I first saw him this offseason,” Jackson’s private quarterbacks coach, Joshua Harris, recently told Brent Sobleski of BleacherReport.com. “I told him, ‘Well, now you know you’re the MVP.’ He looked at me strangely because we never talk about accolades. He responded, ‘What do you mean, Coach?’ He might have been a target before because he’s the quarterback, but he’s going to have a huge target on his back, and they’re going to prepare more for your game.
“He explicitly said to me, ‘They’re preparing for me, but I’m preparing more for them. I’m going to keep a chip on my shoulder.’ He remembers being in that room before becoming the 32nd overall pick. That fuels all of his preparation and where his mindset is. He doesn’t see himself as the MVP; he sees himself as the fifth quarterback taken in his draft class.”
While it’s not quite the same as being the 199th pick in the draft, indignities linger, both big and small. For Jackson, waiting to be taken after Baker Mayield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen will continue to provide motivation, for as long as Jackson plays.
And while it’s true that defenses will devise new strategies for keeping Jackson from wreaking havoc with his legs and his arm, the more Jackson sees and experiences, the better he’ll be. He has only 22 career regular-season starts. As he starts more games, he’ll see more and learn more and understand more and get more out of an uncanny skillset that already has him among the best in the game — and that could eventually put him among the best to ever play.