Three Reasons Why Lamar Jackson Deserves Your Respect

The football’s media narrative of Lamar Jackson has been a rollercoaster as of late. Just one year ago, Jackson became the second unanimous MVP in NFL history after setting the single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback. He was on the cover of Madden. Every kid on the playground wanted to juke out defenders just like him.

Now, Jackson has fallen out of the ‘elite’ category in many minds. This week, Pro Football Focus (PFF) generated headlines by omitting him from a list of the 50 best players in the league. Why the sudden drop-off? Jackson did fall short of expectations last year, but improving on his historic 2020 season was almost impossible. Don’t let recency bias obscure the fact that Jackson remains one of the most dangerous passers in football today.

1. Even Legends Have Down Years

The NFL media has a habit of declaring that players have lost their touch after a single disappointing season. Just one year ago, the sports world had decided that Aaron Rodgers was entering the decline of his career and had “lost his timing.” He responded by setting career-highs in touchdown passes and completion percentage in his 2020 MVP season. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady also both won Super Bowls after being written off by the media.

Obviously Lamar Jackson has not quite reached the status of those legendary players, but the point still stands. The 16-game NFL season is incredibly short — making generalizations about a player after one bad year is like denouncing a baseball player after a couple of bad weeks. Jackson should be judged based on what we know he is capable of, not only what we have seen recently.

2. Baltimore’s Receiving Corps Is Among The League’s Worst

Ravens position review: Wide receivers take small steps forward, but  there's still a big need - Baltimore Sun

Nearly every quarterback ranked above Jackson on PFF’s top 50 players list has one thing in common: an elite wide receiver to throw to. Patrick Mahomes has Tyreek Hill; Josh Allen has Stefon Diggs; and Lamar Jackson has … Marquise Brown?

It is unreasonable to judge Jackson’s passing stats without taking into account the lack of talent around him. Allen did not become a star player until Diggs joined his team. Yes, he did take great strides as a passer last year, but there’s no denying that Diggs was at least partially responsible for the turnaround.

Jackson, however, has had no such luck. Baltimore’s wide receivers earned a combined 68.5 pass-catching grade from PFF last year, fourth-worst in the league. None of them had over 800 yards. The Ravens used a first-round pick on Rashod Bateman to try and turn things around, but it is unlikely that the group will be much better next year.

Despite that lack of talent, Jackson had the seventh-highest QBR in the league last year. He is the only quarterback in the top 10 without a Pro-Bowl-caliber receiver.

3. His Arm Talent Is Real

Analysis: Bills took away explosive runs, shut down Lamar Jackson | Buffalo  Bills News | NFL |

Though Jackson’s passing ability is less impressive than his running, he is more than capable in the pocket.

Baltimore’s offense is built entirely around running the ball. They ranked first in the league in rushing yards last year and had 31 runs of over 20 yards. That explosiveness allows Jackson to focus more on short plays in the passing game, at which he is among the league’s best. He had a 73% completion percentage on short throws last year, one point behind Mahomes.

Even if Jackson never becomes an elite deep ball thrower, his accuracy and ability to move the chains will keep Baltimore in Super Bowl contention for years to come.

The Ten Podcast: NBA MVP Candidates

There’s nothing like a good crossover; in basketball or podcasting and that’s what we have on the latest episode of The Ten!

Baseline Times’ owner and host of the Shoot or Pass Podcast Chevy jumps in with Cody on The Ten to discuss the 2020-21 NBA MVP candidates!

Chevy and Cody also discuss the long-winded NBA season, playoff format options, and Chevy gives out his awards for the regular season. To close, Chevy names his ten NBA MVP candidates including his pick to win the award this season.

Listen here or anywhere you get your favorite podcast and be sure to follow on Twitter @BaselineTen.

Check out The Baseline Bet$ for daily expert picks!

Offensive & Defensive MVPs for the Active Northeast CFB Teams

Phil Jurkovec & BC vs. Pitt

The 2020 college football season is roughly half-way over for a few of the Northeast teams (B1G), almost done for others (ACC, WVU, AAC), and whatever the heck UMass is doing (got dominated in 2 games so far, ready to be hurt again).

Now seems like a perfect time to do mid-season MVP awards for each team. (Not really, but it’s 2020. Nothing makes sense!)

Without further ado, I present to you the MVPs on both sides of the ball. Of course, like actual MVP awards these are heavily weighted to skill position players. Sorry O-Linemen, nothing personal!

Penn State

O – Junior WR Jahan Dotson (Nazareth, PA | Nazareth Area High) – One of the few bright spots for Penn State offensively this season, Dotson seems to make spectacular catches multiple times per week.  He really shined against Ohio State’s vaunted secondary in their 2nd game of the year.  Jahan leads the Nittany Lions with 23 receptions for 388 yds and 5 TDs through 4 games.

D – Junior LB Ellis Brooks (Mechanicsville, VA) – The rangy linebacker has emerged as a defensive leader in Micah Parsons’ absence.  Through 4 games he’s tallied 31 tackles, 4.5 for loss, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble.  Honorable mention to sophomore DE Jayson Oweh (Howell, NJ | Blair Academy).


O – RS Sophomore QB Taulia Tagovailoa (Ewa Beach, HI by way of Alabama) – An electric QB transfer from Bama, Taulia has authored 2 big wins for the Terps (Penn State and Minnesota).  He stunk up the joint in the first game against Northwestern, but that is looking more like an aberration each week. 770 yds, 6 TDs, and 4 INTs for Taulia through 3 games (3 of those INTs in the Northwestern game).  Senior RB Jake Funk (Gaithersburg, Md. | Damascus) deserves honorable mention. 

D – Junior LB Chance Campbell (Towson, MD | Calvert Hall) – The thumping linebacker leads the UMD defense with 33 tackles (10 more than next highest), 4.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery for a TD in just 3 games.


O – Junior RB Isaih Pacheco (Vineland, NJ | Vineland South) – Shifty back Pacheco shines in both the rushing and passing games.  He’s got 287 yds on the ground and 82 in the air with a pair of scores through 4 games. 

Senior WR Bo Melton (Mays Landing, NJ | Cedar Creek) – Just about every time Melton touches the ball good things happen for the Scarlet Knights.  In 4 games, he has 19 receptions for 331 yds and 4 TDs.  Melton’s only kick return went for 65 yds and he has a 58 yd punt return TD to boot! 

D – Senior LB Olakunle Fatukasi (Far Rockaway, NY | Grand Street Campus) – Big O has tallied 40 tackles, 5 for loss, 2 fumble recoveries, and a forced fumble through 4 games. Honorable mention to Senior LB Tyshonn Fogg (Baltimore, MD | Calvert Hall).


O – Freshman RB Sean Tucker (Owings Mills, MD | Calvert Hall) – The third Calvert Hall player to be mentioned is just a Freshman.  He’s been forced to emerge after some injuries for the Orange.  Through 6 games, Tucker has 3 TDs, 414 rushing yds, and another 61 receiving.

Junior WR Taj Harris (Beverly, NJ | Palmyra) – Through inconsistency at QB (due to aforementioned injuries) Harris has been the rock on offense. He’s gone for 507 yds and 4 TDs so far this year. 

D – Soph LB Mikel Jones (Miami, FL) – This guy really fills up the stat sheet: 56 tackles, 1 for loss, 3 INTs, 1 pass defended, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries.  He has made his impact more so in pass coverage but the overall number of tackles shows that Jones excels in all facets of the game.  

Boston College

O – Redshirt Soph QB Phil Jurkovec – (Pittsburgh, PA | Pine-Richland) – The Notre Dame transfer has immediately reinvigorated BC football (I’m sure some influence from new coach Jeff Hafley as well).  Through 9 games he’s got 2355 yds and 17 TDs with just 5 INTs. At 6’5”, he can also move a bit and has added 130 rushing yds and 3 TDs. Jurkovec may be a legitimate Heisman contender next year. 

D – Grad Student LB Max Richardson (Duluth, GA) & Redshirt Junior LB Isaiah McDuffie (Buffalo, NY | Bennett HS) – The bash brothers are each among the top 5 in total tackles in the nation. (Not entirely fair as the ACC has played more games than most other conferences, but still impressive).  McDuffie has the slight edge in overall with 87 tackles, 6.5 for loss, 3 sacks, an INT, and a fumble recovery.  Richardson is right behind with 85 tackles, 8 for loss, 3.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery himself.


O – Senior QB Kenny Pickett (Oakhurst, NJ | Ocean Township) – Pickett hasn’t had an ideal 2020 as he’s had to miss 2 games due to injury.  In his 6 other games, he was able to manage 1599 passing yards, 8 TDs, and 3 INTs. He also added 132 rushing yds and 6 TDs.  His absence shows his importance even further as the Panthers struggled when Pickett was not able to go.

D – Redshirt Senior DE Patrick Jones II (Chesapeake, VA) – The D Line has been phenomenal as expected for Pitt with 38 sacks in 8 games.  Jones has led the charge with 8 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss among 32 total tackles.  Soph Linebacker Sirvocea Dennis (Syracuse, NY | Christian Brothers Academy) very much deserves honorable mention.  Redshirt Soph DB Paris Ford (Pittsburgh, PA | Steel Valley High School) was also having a stellar year.  He opted out of the season after game 7 to prepare for the NFL draft as he is a likely first round pick.


O – Redshirt Junior QB Jarret Doege (Lubbox, TX) – The transfer from Bowling Green has been a traditional pocket passer for the Mountaineers.  In 8 games, he’s gone for 2219 yds in the air with 13 TDs and 3 INTs. He’s “added” -73 yds on the ground, hence the pocket passer designation.

Junior RB Leddie Brown (Philadelphia, PA | Newmann and Goretti High) – Brown looks like he’ll easily break 1,000 rushing yards on the year as he’s already at 897.  He’s got another 184 yds through the air with 11 total TDs. 

D – Soph Safety Tykee Smith (Philadelphia, PA | Imhotep Charter) – Smith plays the ‘spear’ position for WVU and it has been effective.  55 tackles with 8 for loss, 2 INTs, and 4 passes defended.  A pair of transfers deserve honorable mention in Grad Transfer LB Tony Fields II (Las Vegas – transfer from Arizona) and Redshirt Senior CB Alonzo Addae (Pickering, Ontario – transfer from New Hampshire).


O – Redshirt Junior WR Jadan Blue (Randallstown, MD | Mount St. Joseph) – The shifty and speedy WR leads Temple with 5 TDs in 6 games.  He also is second in receiving yards with 374 and is the primary kick returner with 202 yds on 11 returns. 

D – Redshirt Junior DE Arnold Ebiketie (Silver Spring, MD | Albert Einstein High) – Is tied for first place in the AAC for forced fumbles per game (0.5).  Also leads Temple in tackles, which is impressive from the DE position.  He’s added in 8.5 TFL, 4 sacks, and 1 scoop and score.  Grad Student LB William Kwenkeu (Waldorf, MD | St. Charles) gets the honorable mention nod here.


O – Senior FB Nelson Smith, (Baton Rouge, LA) – Is smaller in stature, as is typical of service academy athletes, but is a battering ram.  The 2nd ranked FB in the country, he’s gone for 447 yds on the ground and 7 TDs in 7 games. Honorable Mention to Junior FB Jamale Carothers (Bowling Green, KY) who happens to be the 3rd ranked FB in the country. 

D – Junior LB Diego Fagot (Fort Lauderdale, FL) – Is another one leading his school in tackles (53) from the LB position. 8.5 of those were for loss, 3 sacks, and 2 passes defended in 7 games.  


O – Entire rushing attack – Take a look at the stat sheet below (Through 8 games).  Army has played a weak schedule and runs the option, but the sheer volume of rushers with 3+ yards per carry and multiple TDs is astounding.   

1Christian Anderson723134.34
2Jakobi Buchanan693304.84
3Sandon McCoy622103.48
4Tyrell Robinson433478.10
5Jemel Jones412375.83
6Anthony Adkins382667.04
7Tyhier Tyler382235.91
8Cade Barnard201105.51
9Artice Hobbs IV171066.20
10Maurice Bellan13463.50
11Tyson Riley12574.80
12Cade Ballard9202.21
13AJ Howard Jr.7304.30
14Christian Parrish5163.20
15Braheam Murphy3206.70
16Jordan Blackman2199.51
17Wilson Catoe14747.00
18Reikan Donaldson12929.00
Dang Army!

D – Senior LB Jon Rhattigan (Naperville, IL) – Stout LB who both leads Army in tackles and really fills up the stat sheet.  Here is what his line looks like: 60 tackles, 8 for loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 93 return yards, 1 TD, 2 passes defended, and 1 fumble recovery. 


O – Junior RB Jaret Patterson (Glendale, MD | Saint Vincent Pallotti) – Just went off for 301 yds and 4 TDs on the ground last night (Tues, 11/17) in about 3 quarters. That puts him at 511 yds and 8 TDs in 3 games this season. He’s a 1st Team All-MAC performer that will be playing on Sundays for sure. The one question is how he can perform in the passing game as he hasn’t had to be utilized much there.

D – Senior Safety Tyrone Hill (Passaic, NJ | Don Bosco Prep) – A leader on defense, Hill earned all-MAC honors last season. In 2 games, he’s tallied 5 tackles and 3 passes defended.


O – Freshman QB Will Koch (Niceville, FL) – Threw the only TD of UMass’ short (2 game) season.  Has not thrown a pick and is on pace for a 66.7% completion percentage.  Son of Vermont legend and Silver Medal Olympic skier Bill Koch.   

D – Senior LB Mike Ruane (Middletown, NJ | Rumson-Fair Haven HS) – Leads the Minutemen so far in tackles (17), TFL (3), and sacks (1).

More NCAAF coverage from Baseline Times

Baseline Times First Half MLB MVP Winners

The first half of the 2017 MLB season has been a very interesting one. In the National League, you have surprising breakout seasons with the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Brewers all sitting in playoff spots at the moment. Then you have the Cubs, Mets, and Giants, all teams who made the 2016 playoffs, currently sitting under .500. Of those three teams, the Cubs are the only one with a real shot at the playoffs, with the Mets and Giants around the bottom of the MLB in wins. At the top of the NL, the Dodgers sit at 61 wins by the All-Star break, eight wins above the number two Diamondbacks, with 26 wins in their last 30 games.

In the American League, there are a far greater amount of teams in the middle compared to their NL counterparts. Four of the top five teams by wins in the MLB are NL teams. Three of the bottom four teams by wins in are NL teams. 13 of the other 21 teams are smack dab in the middle of the pack from the AL. The Red Sox are the only 50 win team, 11 games over .500, with the Rays sitting three wins back only four games over .500. Besides the White Sox, Tigers, and A’s, every other AL team has between 41 and 50 wins. The NL has just five teams between 41 and 50 wins.

First Half MLB Award Winner and Candidates

As far as individual players go, the leagues essentially switch when it comes to parity when considering the first half MLB MVP winners. Below are my top five choices for each league for the first half MVP awards. If you are interested, check out our article on the Baseline Times First Half Cy Young Winners as well.

Apr 17, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (right) is congratulated after hitting a two run home run against the Chicago White Sox during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 17, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

American League – OF Aaron Judge – .329/.448/.691 30 HR 66 RBI 197 wRC+ and 5.5 fWAR in 84 G

Could anyone else have been in this spot? Judge has lit the baseball world on fire in 2017 and is not only the best player in the AL this season but in all of the MLB. He leads the MLB in home runs, wRC+, and fWAR. In the AL, Judge had a 1.1 fWAR lead over the second highest ranked position player. Not only is judge the first half MVP winner, he has a great head start for the second half as well.

2. SS Carlos Correa – .325/.402/.577 20 HR 65 RBI 161 wRC+ and 4.0 fWAR in 81 G

Correa had a rough first few weeks of the 2017 season, hitting just .196/.292/.250 with 1 extra base hit in his first 65 PA. Since then, Correa has hit an astounding .347/.421/.638 in 302 PA, good for a 181 wRC+. Correa has been one of the better hitters in baseball this season while at the same time playing good defense at SS for the Houston Astros. On a team with at least three players good enough to be in the discussion for the first half MVP award, Correa is the best to me.

3. 2B Jose Altuve – .347/.417/.551 13 HR 18 SB 161 wRC+ and 4.4 fWAR in 86 G

For the fourth straight season, Altuve is a hit machine. He has had 200 or more hits each of the last three seasons and is well on his way this season already sitting at 116. What has changed the last two seasons for him is that along with those hits, he’s starting to hit for very good power. Last season he slugged .531 with 71 extra base hits, and this season is already at a better pace with a .551 slugging percentage and 40 extra base hits to this point. You could easily flip Correa and Altuve around here because they have been both so amazing great for the Astros.

4. OF Mike Trout – .337/.461/.742 16 HR 10 SB 208 wRC+ and 3.4 fWAR in 47 G

No one likes to see players get injured, but the injury to Mike Trout in 2017 has been my least favorite (with apologies to Freddie Freeman). The injury to Trout robbed of us an excellent MVP race between he and Judge, seeing which player could amaze us more. In just 47 games Trout was worth 3.4 fWAR this season, right around a pace of 10 or so fWAR. Amazingly enough 10 fWAR would actually be just the third highest of his career after his first two season totals.

Currently, Trout is rehabbing and may be back soon, but with the time missed, it’s hard to believe he could overcome the gap between Judge and the rest of the league. However, if he comes back and plays as great as ever, it will be interesting to see what people think about 120 or so games of peak Mike Trout vs the full season of the others.

5. 3B Jose Ramirez – .332/.388/.601 17 HR 10 SB 157 wRC+ and 3.9 fWAR in 86 G

Putting Ramirez fifth on this list may look a bit odd, seeing as he has been as good or better than everyone mentioned so far minus Aaron Judge. What that really says is that the group below Judge are all so insanely close together in value, that no matter what order I arranged them in there would be people who had a problem with it.

With that said, Jose Ramirez has been quite spectacular this season after being a very good utility type player last season. Ramirez has upped his offense to a very high level in 2017, especially the last month and a half or so. Since 5/26, Ramirez has 33 extra base hits and is hitting .398/.441/.747 with a 210 wRC+ in 179 PA.

Honorable Mentions: Chris Sale, George Springer, Mookie Betts

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

National League –  3B Justin Turner – .377/.473/.583 10 HR 183 wRC+ and 4.1 fWAR in 65 G

Over the last four seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Justin Turner has changed from mediocre utility infielder to a legitimate star 3B. This season, Turner not only leads the NL in batting average, but the entire MLB. A high batting average is not all Turner has accomplished in 2017, despite Eno Sarris calling it an empty BA just a week or so ago. Turner also has the highest OBP in the MLB sitting at .473, and the highest wRC+ in the NL by 16 points over Joey Votto at 183. Currently, Turner does not technically qualify for the leaderboards but is likely to after this weekend or into early next week.

Another big value to Turner is his excellent glove at 3B. Turner is not the best fielding 3B in the NL, an honor which Nolan Arenado currently holds, but it may be the next best thing. If you couple that excellent defense at 3B with his league leading hitting, this puts Justin Turner at 4.1 fWAR, tied for the NL lead, and with 15-20 fewer games played than his competition.

2. 1B Paul Goldschmidt – .312/.428/.577 20 HR 67 RBI 13 SB 153 wRC+ and 4.0 fWAR

Paul Goldschmidt is having yet another elite year. What is different from this to previous years of his elite play is that it is actually for an Arizona Diamondbacks team that is actually right in the thick of the playoff hunt. At the moment the Diamondbacks have 53 wins, which is the third most in baseball. They have a 2 game lead over the Rockies for the first Wild Card spot and 9.5 over the Cardinals and Cubs after that.

The only offensive category that Goldschmidt leads in is runs scored, but he is top 10 in HR (8th), RBI (4th), SB (8th), BA (10th), OBP (3rd), SLG (8th), wOBA (4th), wRC+ (4th), and fWAR (3rd). Goldschmidt hasn’t been the best in any significant category but has been exceptional in every offensive category this season.

3. 1B Joey Votto – .315/.427/.631 26 HR 68 RBI 167 wRC+ and 3.8 fWAR

What can you say about Joey Votto? Outside of an injury-shortened 2014, Votto has not had a wRC+ under 155 since his second full season in the majors back in 2009. Outside of that 2014 season, he has not had an fWAR under 4.6 since 2009. Votto is a model of offensive consistency, and maybe the most overlooked star of this generation.

In 2017 Votto is not only getting on base like usual, with his .427 OBP, but is hitting for the best power of his career to this point. Votto leads the NL in slugging percentage at .631, .031 points higher than his previous career high. He is already with 26 home runs through 88 games, with his career high being 37 back in 2010, the same year of his previous career high .600 slugging percentage. There is very little reason why Votto couldn’t be second and Goldschmidt third on this list, but I gave a very slight edge for Goldschmidt helping lead the Diamondbacks to the third best record in the first half.

4. 3B Anthony Rendon – .304/.407/.552 16 HR 54 RBI 148 wRC+ and 4.1 fWAR

Despite being tied for the NL lead in fWAR with Justin Turner, Anthony Rendon was not voted to the All-Star team. It definitely seems like one of the bigger oversights in recent memory, despite 3B in the NL being absolutely stacked this season. Rendon is not only putting up a great offensive season, tied for 5th in wRC+, but has been a tremendous fielder at 3B this season, similar to Justin Turner.

However, Rendon has been a bit overshadowed this season by teammates Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, both of whom got major attention for a huge first couple of months. As it’s turned out, Rendon has done better for longer than both of his Washington Nationals teammates in overall value and is very deserving of being in the NL MVP discussion. More people may prefer Bryce Harper in this spot, but for me Rendon has done just a bit more to be here instead.

5. SS Corey Seager – .298/.395/.502 13 HR 139 wRC+ and 3.6 fWAR

As the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, Corey Seager has not only improved his game from last season with better on-base skills (7.9 BB% in 16 to 13.5% in 17), but continues to hit for good power and measure very favorably in fielding by UZR. Seager does not have flashy HR or RBI numbers but has a great line drive swing that results in a lot of extra base hits. His numbers aren’t flashy like you would expect an MVP candidate to be, but his overall game being so good to great at everything with very few holes provides a huge amount of value.

Honorable Mentions: Bryce Harper, Buster Posey, Daniel Murphy, Marcell Ozuna, Cody Bellinger, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw

As always for those wanting to learn more about some of the advanced stats mentioned here, go to