What we have in 2019, then, is rare: A genuinely fun MVP race, even by the narrow parameters of the award, featuring two players who are probably the most valuable in the league, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.
If you enjoy football, this is what you want: two elite talents in Super Bowl contention trying to win MVP, and making plays that shouldn’t be possible on an NFL field.
I think we are going to learn a lot about football in the next few weeks. We know more about the sport than ever, and this will continue to be true. NFL tracking data, Pro Football Focus, Football Outsiders, and a ton of smart analysts are providing more context than ever before to evaluate player performance. For instance, this stat about Jackson struck me this week:
Defenders get close to Jackson but simply cannot tackle him. Most of the defenders he passes on the field look like they picked up the sport for the first time earlier in the day. A defender being within 1 yard of a quarterback means the end of the play for nearly every signal-caller. For Jackson, it means gaining 518 additional yards.
Powerful Offensive Line Helping Drive Ravens’ High-Octane Attack - Clifton Brown
“We’re a consistent group right now,” Yanda said. “For you to be a player for a long time in this league, you’ve got to be a consistent player. I think that all five guys have played consistent football and that’s what you need. The offensive line, it starts with us up front, it starts with the D-line up front every single Sunday. We’re definitely playing very consistent football right now.”
“He’s a great football coach,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “It starts with [offensive line coach Joe D’Allessandris]. Joe is old school. He teaches techniques the way that they’ve been taught for a long time, proven stuff, and he does it the right way. And we have a bunch of guys that love to work, very talented guys, very physical guys. The last part is continuity. Those guys have all stayed together. They’ve all been out there practicing, and that’s how you improve.”
Chuck Clark Was an Eric Weddle Understudy
Ravens players have lauded Chuck Clark for his football intelligence. He’s almost always in the right place and has done an excellent job communicating the defense’s play calls and helping get the unit lined up.
Sounds a lot like former Raven Eric Weddle. Weddle wore the headset for most of last season, when Clark was his understudy.
“He meant a lot [to my career],” Clark said. “My first two years, just being able to watch him and learn from him and talk to him as a player and just kind of studying day in and day out … it carries over to you as a player.”
Clark said he watched how Weddle approached the preparation for practices and games, and said it’s going to be a “great feeling” going against him now.
Clark has been a versatile and steady player since replacing injured safety Tony Jefferson (knee) in Week 6. Clark has 41 tackles, four passes defensed and a forced fumble. The Ravens have been the NFL’s top defense since Week 7 (when cornerback Marcus Peters also arrived).
15.3 percent of the Rams’ offensive drives end in turnovers, the sixth most in the NFL
Los Angeles has not protected the ball well this season, and the turnovers have proven costly. The Rams are 2-0 when they avoid a giveaway, and they’re 4-1 when they turn the ball over fewer than two times.
Los Angeles is 2-3 when coughs the ball up at least twice.
The Ravens defense has forced at least two turnovers in four straight games, all victories. So a couple takeaways might illuminate the easiest path to a primetime road win Monday night.