OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With Lamar Jackson always quick to credit teammates for his individual success, it’s no wonder another Ravens player would try to accept the quarterback’s latest honor.
As the announcement was being made that Jackson had been voted as team MVP unanimously by the local media, Matthew Judon made a beeline to the podium at the conclusion of Baltimore’s bye week, drawing much laughter. You get the sense Jackson wouldn’t have minded the Pro Bowl outside linebacker receiving the honor, which speaks to the gravitational pull of his leadership within the organization.
“Anyone could have been MVP, I feel. Everyone is MVP because without them, there’s no me,” said Jackson, who was also named to the Associated Press first-team All-Pro team Friday. “I thank the coaching staff, [reporters], my teammates. It’s a team award to me.”
The honors have continued to pour in for the NFL MVP favorite in his second season, but Jackson remains focused on fulfilling the promise he made the night he was drafted less than two years ago — bringing the Ravens their next Super Bowl. Last January’s playoff loss continues to motivate Jackson as he’ll finally have his next postseason chance in the divisional round next Saturday.
Jackson says that hasn’t altered his preparation this week — though an illness did — but his individual accolades and a 14-2 regular season don’t mean anything if the Ravens don’t feel the urgency to play their best football after their bye week.
“You have to go into each and every game the same way,” Jackson said. “This playoff game is a Super Bowl game because if you don’t win, you’re out. You’re going home until next season. I’m treating every game like it’s a Super Bowl game until I’m in there and it says ‘Super Bowl’ across.”
Head coach John Harbaugh said Wink Martindale’s Saturday meeting with the New York Giants and Greg Roman’s meeting with Cleveland on Thursday are the only head coach openings for which his coordinators have scheduled to interview as of yet.
However, the organization granting those requests hasn’t stopped players from trying to keep their coordinators in Baltimore.
“I think he would make a great head coach,” said Judon about Martindale. “But I don’t want to talk about it because I don’t want to lose him. We’ve got some unfinished business. At the end of the season, whenever it happens, talk to me then about it and you’ll see how I feel.”
In his second season as defensive coordinator, Martindale navigated his unit’s early struggles and in-season changes for the Ravens to finish fourth in total defense, third in scoring defense, and fourth in Football Outsiders’ efficiency metric.
Meanwhile, Roman has orchestrated a record-setting offense that’s indeed revolutionized the NFL as Harbaugh predicted in the offseason. With the Ravens setting a single-season league rushing record and becoming the first team in NFL history to average 200 rushing yards and 200 passing yards per game in the regular season, Jackson wants other teams to get in line for their shot at hiring his offensive coordinator.
“They need to chill out. We have something to do right now,” said Jackson as he smiled. “We need him to focus because we need to focus. We’re trying to get somewhere. Let us do ours. You guys are going to have your turn when the season is over with. Just chill — we’re trying to get somewhere.”
Pro Bowl running back Mark Ingram missed practice all week while continuing to recover from a left calf injury sustained in Week 16, but the Ravens remain optimistic about a return for the divisional round.
“He’s on track to play,” Harbaugh said. “He should be practicing next week full speed.”
Wide receiver Marquise Brown, defensive tackle Brandon Williams, and offensive linemen Ben Powers and Parker Ehinger were also absent from Friday’s practice as players now enjoy the weekend off.
Tight end Hayden Hurst returned to the field Friday after being one of several players under the weather this week, according to Harbaugh. Jackson practiced for the second straight day Friday and says he’s fully recovered from the illness with which he’d been dealing since last weekend.
“I really don’t get sick. It was like a stomach bug, kind of, but it was weird — nasty feeling, numbness,” Jackson said. “But I was good; I just couldn’t practice. I didn’t want to get around anybody on my team, especially when we need to work. We need to get better each and every day we can. But I’m over it. I’m good, I’m 100 [percent] right now.”
“Good Guy” award
In addition to Jackson predictably being voted team MVP, the local media chose right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. as the “Good Guy” winner.
The honor goes to a Ravens player who goes above and beyond regular media obligations to help reporters do their jobs. It was a tight vote among Brown, right guard Marshal Yanda, and wide receiver Willie Snead.
“You guys are very invested in us as a team and as individuals,” Brown said. “I just try to do my best to deliver. I do my job as a football player, which is talking to you guys and expressing my emotions.”
As a token of appreciation, local reporters will make a donation in Brown’s name to the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation.
Below is a history of the team MVP and “Good Guy” selections (in that order) dating back to the awards’ introduction by the local media in 2003:
2003: Jamal Lewis, Gary Baxter
2004: Ed Reed, Anthony Weaver
2005: Adalius Thomas, Jamal Lewis
2006: Steve McNair, Bart Scott
2007: Willis McGahee, Derrick Mason
2008: Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs
2009: Ray Rice, Jarret Johnson
2010: Haloti Ngata, Chris Carr
2011: Ray Rice, Bernard Pollard
2012: Ray Rice, Arthur Jones
2013: Justin Tucker, Joe Flacco
2014: Justin Forsett, Torrey Smith
2015: Marshal Yanda, Jimmy Smith
2016: Justin Tucker, Zachary Orr
2017: Terrell Suggs, Eric Weddle
2018: Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr
2019: Lamar Jackson, Orlando Brown Jr.