- ESPN’s Bart Scott believes Baltimore Ravens star Lamar Jackson is the best quarterback in the NFL
- Scott went beyond traditional statistics in picking Jackson over Kansas City Chiefs legend Patrick Mahomes
- The ex-Ravens linebacker put an interesting spin on the popular question
If the NFL’s current state of play continues, football fans might get to spend the rest of the 2020s (which in itself is a painful sentence to write) debating who is better: Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes?
Why wait, though, when ESPN’s Bart Scott can get in on the action now?
ESPN’s Bart Scott believes Lamar Jackson, not Patrick Mahomes, is the NFL’s best quarterback
Any debate involving Jackson and Mahomes is likely to involve their play styles. Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP, is the league’s most athletic quarterback and is no slouch as a passer. Although Mahomes is mobile in his own right, the Kansas City Chiefs star beats teams with his arm and his eyes more than he does his legs.
On the Oct. 13 episode of First Take, Scott — who played for the Baltimore Ravens long before Jackson even dreamt of playing in the NFL — declared the Louisville product is the league’s top quarterback. As one would expect, the 2006 Pro Bowl selection cited the quarterback’s athleticism and overall skill set.
“Lamar Jackson’s more responsible for the productivity than any one of these other quarterbacks. Not only is he their best running back, [but] he’s also the best thrower of the ball … What Lamar Jackson is forced to do is more than what anyone is asked to do.”Bart Scott
Scott said he believed Jackson’s Week 5 performance against the Indianapolis Colts proved the fourth-year quarterback is “the best show in town.” The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner completed 37 of his 43 passes for a career-high 442 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions in a 31-25 comeback victory. He also ran for 62 yards on 14 carries.
So that would mean Mahomes, who entered Week 6 with 1,490 yards and 16 touchdowns, is second on Scott’s list, right? Actually, the Southern Illinois graduate picked Buffalo Bills star Josh Allen, who defeated Mahomes on the road in Week 5, as the runner-up.
Scott’s ‘more with less argument’ only goes so far when discussing the league’s best quarterback
The Jackson-Mahomes debate is one that, at least for now, really comes down to picking the quarterback you’d rather build a team around. Fairly or unfairly, Mahomes’ overall statistics, postseason success, and Super Bowl victory put him above his Baltimore counterpart in most other areas.
Scott cited Jackson thriving as he does more with less, and it’s hard to dispute the evidence there. Injuries ravished the Ravens’ running back room, and the team still lacks a legitimate No. 1 receiver. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, a first-round pick in 2019, is currently working to change that narrative.
Compare that to Mahomes, who has explosive wide receiver Tyreek Hill and All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce at his disposal. Kelce is the best at his position, and few receivers remain more dangerous than Hill, who is on pace to end this season with 126 catches and 1,751 yards.
However, that argument only goes so far in explaining why a quarterback is the league’s best. Even with Rob Gronkowski in the mix, Tom Brady often won in spite of lacking consistent offensive weapons during the final years of his New England Patriots tenure. Yet when TV pundits discussed the league’s best quarterbacks, we’d always hear about the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, each of whom had far superior options in Green Bay and New Orleans, respectively.
Let’s face reality for a second. Jackson’s Ravens entered Week 6 on a four-game winning streak, while Mahomes and the Chiefs are 2-3 in large part because of a leaky defense. Jackson is climbing up the quarterback rankings list because his team has more wins.
For Kansas City to turn its season around and reach the postseason for an eighth straight season, the Chiefs will almost certainly need their star quarterback to carry the defense. If Mahomes does put the team on his back, then many can argue he did more with less — the less being his defense — than Jackson.
The Jackson-Mahomes debate, much like the one involving Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James, will never stop. Lucky us.
Scott wasn’t the only one who recently offered Jackson immense praise
Scott professed his love and respect for Jackson on national television. Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley took a more subdued approach entering Week 6.
In the days before his Chargers faced Jackson, Staley said “there hasn’t been anybody” like the Ravens’ star quarterback.
“I think the thing that’s unique about Lamar is that there’s danger on every snap,” Staley told reporters. “There’s danger running the football, and there’s danger throwing the football.”
Staley’s Chargers intercepted Mahomes twice in a 30-24 upset victory on Sept. 26, and we’ll see if his defense controls Jackson the way they did his Kansas City counterpart. If Jackson does win his fifth straight game, though, you should expect to hear Scott continue spreading the good word in the coming days.