Lamar Jackson entered his second NFL season looking to entrench himself as a consistent threat in what would be his first full campaign as a starter. He exits it with the league’s highest individual honor.
The Baltimore Ravens quarterback won the Associated Press’ Most Valuable Player award for the 2019 season in the second unanimous victory in NFL history, the league announced Saturday at the NFL Honors ceremony. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in 2010 was the only other player ever to receive a clean sweep of votes.
Having turned 23 on Jan. 7, Jackson becomes the second-youngest player ever to be given the honor. Former Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown earned the distinction at 21 in 1957, also winning the following year. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was also 23 when he claimed the award last year, but Jackson was 22 throughout the duration of the regular season.
With the multi-talented quarterback as their catalyst, the Ravens rocketed to a league-best 14-2 record in 2019. In powering the NFL’s top-scoring offense (33.2 points per game), Jackson paced all signal-callers with 36 passing touchdowns. He also joined Ben Roethlisberger as the only player to have two games in the same season with a perfect passer rating after notching the mark against the Miami Dolphins in Week 1 and again in Week 10 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Jackson also broke Michael Vick’s single-season rushing yards for a quarterback with 1,206 despite sitting out in Week 17. The Ravens eclipsed the team rushing record with 3,296 yards and became the first group since at least 1950 to average more than 200 rushing yards and 200 passing yards per game.
Following Mahomes, Jackson becomes the fourth African American quarterback to be voted MVP, and the third outright winner. He’s the first player in the Ravens’ 24-year history to earn the award.
Baltimore’s season came to an end in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs with a 28-12 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Jackson posted 508 yards of total offense in the game, but he threw two interceptions and completed just 31 of 59 passes amid a rash of drops by his receivers.
“He’s 23 years old. He’s younger than (former) LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, OK? So he’s got a pretty good head start right now,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after the game. “I mean, he’s along the way. The Manning brothers combined to … they had five losses in their first five playoff games before they won one. [Joe] Montana, [Steve] Young and [Brett] Favre didn’t start a playoff game until their third season. [Drew] Brees and [Troy] Aikman until their fourth season, and [Aaron] Rodgers until his fifth season. Interesting.”
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.