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NFL mailbag: Lamar Jackson and the MVP race

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Lamar Jackson

For the rest of the NFL season, we’ll be publishing the mailbag from Albert Breer’s Game Plan as a separate piece. Questions or feedback? Let us know at [email protected] Questions for next week’s mailbag? Tweet at Breer.

From Clancy (@cole_clancy): Who is your MVP through the season so far?

It was Russell Wilson until Monday night, and now it’s Lamar Jackson. That’s not to take away from Wilson whatsoever. He’s been incredible this year and has consistently lifted up players like Metcalf and Jacob Hollister, who weren’t on the roster a year ago. Making the whole greater than its parts is the essence of quarterbacking to me.

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But what Jackson did on Monday night checks every single box imaginable. He was spectacularly efficient in the passing game. His decision-making was spotless. And he was an absolute menace in the option game. Watching the Ravens, it seriously looks like Jackson is single-handedly putting really good defensive players and really good defensive coaches in a constant state of panic.

Here’s the crazy thing: He “only” had 264 yards from scrimmage against the Rams. He went 15-of-20 for 169 yards (and five touchdowns) and ran eight times for 95 yards. But he had an absolutely massive, unmistakable impact on everything out there.

From RolloR (@m_niller): How long before QBs that can’t/won’t/don’t run are completely phased out of the league?

Rollo, I don’t think that’ll happen. But I do think the open-mindedness of evaluators to look at each quarterback for who he is coming into the league—and not for how he might fit into one system—and the open-mindedness of coaches to adjust what they do to accommodate players is at the crux of this.

That’s widened the net that teams throw into the draft waters every year in search of quarterbacking talent. And since there are only 32 starting jobs out there, that necessarily means there’ll be fewer for traditional dropback guys. But I think that this change isn’t about the league shifting from one type of quarterback to another. I think it’s about taking a more pragmatic approach to finding a quarterback, which takes more players into account, rather than focusing on a single group.

That, by the way, is why we’ve had two six-feet-or-shorter QBs go first overall the last two years.

From MMMX_R (@MMMX_R): Explain the Ravens offense to me, it looks unstoppable but also feels like college. Why is it so effective? Is their offensive line the real MVP?

It’s effective for a number of reasons.

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