Lamar Jackson has been in decline
That was the first reason - Geno Smith outplayed Lamar Jackson last year. My second reason is that Lamar Jackson hasn't outplayed himself in three years. We got a little mathy earlier by comparing Jackson to Smith. As Drax the Destroyer would say, I'll do you one better. No, I'm not asking why is Lamar Jackson. I will ask, why are people still seeing the 2019 MVP on the field? It's time to compare Jackson to Jackson.
I'll note that Jackson missed five games in each of the last two seasons, so again, on a per-game basis, his counting stats are better than they would appear at first glance. I'm still not sure how he was named to the Pro Bowl in 2021 over guys like Joe Burrow and Josh Allen, but that's an argument for the fine people at Stripe Hype and Buffalowdown to make. I got enough on my plate as it is.
Okay, back to Jackson and his performance since his MVP season. It isn't simply that he hasn't been the same player; he hasn't come close to the production he gave the Ravens in 2019. He came the closest in 2020 and still dropped by almost 400 yards passing and 10 passing scores. He threw three more picks and even ran for 200 fewer yards. His decline continued in 2021 and 2022.
Compared to his 2021 season, he practically fell off a cliff in those years. He threw 36 TDs in 15 games in 2019, then just 33 in 24 games combined the past two years. Jackson's INTs climbed from only 6 in his MVP year to 13 in 2021 and 7 last year - remember, he played in three fewer games last season. Yes, he can still run, but not as much, or as well. In 2021 he averaged 80.4 yards per game and a phenomenal 6.9 yards per carry. In 2021 those numbers were 63.9 and 5.8. Last year he averaged 63.7 yards per game but did get his average per attempt back up to a stellar 6.8.
Listen, I'm not saying Lamar Jackson is done; far from it. But I don't exactly see a huge upward trend pointing to a return to his MVP form, either. Most troubling of all is the fact that he's missed five games now in each of the past two seasons. His playing style makes him more susceptible to injury than most QBs as well. He runs more than Michael Vick, RG3, Cam Newton, or any quarterback you care to name. Heck, I bet he even runs more on average than Peyton Manning. Sorry, I was just checking if you were paying attention. In short, I don't see Jackson returning to that incredibel MVP form.