Who’s better Mahomes or Lamar?
On September 28, the two youngest MVPs in NFL history will meet when Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens host Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football.
It’s already one of the most highly anticipated matchups on the 2020 NFL schedule, mainly because the sports world is rightly under the impression that Mahomes-Jackson is in the process of becoming an individual rivalry on a level with Magic-Bird, Federer-Nadal, Ali-Frazier, and Brady-Manning.
Mahomes is coming off a Super Bowl MVP, while Jackson is coming off possibly the best single-season performance in NFL history—one in which he threw 36 touchdown passes and just six interceptions while ranking sixth in football with 1,206 rushing yards.
One has a larger sample (Mahomes threw 50 touchdown passes as the 2018 MVP before again lighting it up in 2019), but the other is 16 months younger (Jackson just turned 23 in January; Mahomes will turn 25 in September).
If we’re lucky, the “would you rather” debate involving these two will rage on well into the 2030s, but it’s not too early to begin deliberations.
We did just that in an offseason roundtable involving national NFL voices Gary Davenport, Ty Dunne, Mike Freeman, Brad Gagnon, Matt Miller, Brent Sobleski, and Mike Tanier. These are the results.
This appears to be a difficult call. And a decision with no wrong answer. After all, when your choices are the last two NFL MVPs, whichever quarterback you select will be pretty danged good.
However, for this writer at least, the choice is an easy one—and it’s not especially close.
Put us down for Team Mahomes.
It’s no knock on Jackson, who piled up over 1,200 rushing yards and led the NFL in touchdown passes in 2019. But in just two seasons of game action, Mahomes has been a revelation.
After barely playing as a rookie, in 2018 Mahomes became just the second signal-caller in NFL history to pass for over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in the same season. His numbers dipped last year because of a knee injury, but Mahomes’ 2019 campaign ended with a Super Bowl LIV title and the game’s MVP honors.
Mahomes is athletic. He’s accurate. His vision is excellent. And with equal parts ease and consistency, he’s capable of delivering a 40-yard throw right into the sweet spot for a wideout racing downfield.
Jackson was fantastic in 2019. But if Mahomes continues to play at the level he has the past two seasons, he will challenge for the title of the greatest quarterback ever.
Man, this is tough. Both are unique and both will rake in MVPs and Super Bowls but, for this, give me Jackson.
His raw speed and durability as a runner are ridiculous—his physical gifts are unprecedented. There’s no sign that anyone can stop Jackson in the open field, and the massive jump he made as a passer from year one to year two suggests he’ll only get better through the air.
Just as LeBron James developed a jump shot and blossomed into the NBA’s best player of this era (and No. 1 or No. 2 in history) if Jackson keeps improving as a passer, lookout. He can have the same impact.
Here’s thinking, given his work ethic, he does.