Image Credit: Getty Images
When Cam Newton said that he was something the NFL had never seen, while the statement oozed with self-indulgence and ego and lacked in detail, it was deeply profound.
Of the many lightning rods, politically incorrect or bizarre statements Cam has made throughout his illustrious career, he was spot on with that one. From his fearlessness and unique fashion sense to the “Dab” sensation that he created back when he was healthy and killing squads with this legs and arm, Cam is truly special.
As his career comes to an end, a new, improved version of Cam continues to defy the critics and create quite a wave. With Patrick Mahomes sidelined and taking nothing from the brilliance of Deshaun Watson who’s another underrated dual-threat game-changer — all eyes have turned to the African-American quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens with a chip on his shoulder bigger than a boulder — Lamar Jackson.
Michael Vick said it himself: “If you can clone a Michael Vick and his running style, you get LaMar Jackson.”
Yeah that LJ, the same one NFL pundits, scouts and respected GM’s said wasn’t good enough to be a star at the pro level. Some even suggested he become a running back.
Remember that bowl of cow dung?
Those expert opinions have not only been shattered but obliterated in less than two seasons. Jackson is a human highlight film, but the defining moment of his young career occurred on Sunday night in front of a national audience when he torched Tom Brady and the undefeated Patriots 37-20.
Lamar Jackson is the youngest QB in the Super Bowl era to defeat a team that entered the game 8-0 or better. pic.twitter.com/nOqZxFP6ho
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 4, 2019
His passing stats were modest but effective and he completed some key third and fourth down passes to keep drives going. His legs were a weapon as usual as he ran for 61 yards and two scores.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 4, 2019
With Lamar making effective decisions, eating the clock with his dynamic running ability and sending quick missiles to various receivers when the situation calls for it, the Ravens defense was able to do their thing, give up 20 points, but still win easily,
Jackson IS something the NFL has never seen before, but not because he has running back ability with a QBs savvy. Donovan McNabb, Russell Wilson, Daunte Culpepper, RG3, Mike Vick, Randall Cunningham (the most dynamic of them all) have all conquered that trade.
What makes Jackson different is that he was doubted by so many. From his unusually rugged style of running to the way the entire Raven offense is designed around his skillset makes him a test tube baby of sorts.
Lamar is the perfect quarterback for the Ravens system. He was able to knock off Brady, another system quarterback who has excelled for nearly two decades with a formula of consistency; that having one head coach, one philosophy and one focus gains without deviation, year-after-year.
Maybe Harbaugh and Jackson can have that kind of relationship and success. The last QB chosen in the first round of the 2018 draft has that “it” factor. It doesn’t always show up in the numbers, but when you watch him play, you know that something special is transpiring.
"Lamar Jackson showed you his time is now and Tom Brady's time does appear to be fading. There was no channelling some GOAT greatness for Brady. … The Ravens had the better QB and maybe the better team." — @getnickwright pic.twitter.com/CZrUjj0GQ0
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) November 4, 2019
He’s like a perfect pour from the tap. Nothing extra. No inflated stats in meaningless losses, like so many NFL quarterbacks, produce. Everything he does on the field has meaning and purpose with bad intentions to win games. He has that Russell Wilson, late-game dawg, toughness, and natural leadership in him.
His ability to stand out in an era where superstar black QBs are coming out of the woodworks is a testament to how playing at this level was always his destiny and how teams who try to ignore the inevitable change in NFL QB culture will get left behind.