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Lamar Jackson isn’t Michael Vick — he’s better

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The numbers say Jackson is both a better passer and a better runner than Vick.

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

There’s a long history of running quarterbacks in the NFL. Fran Tarkenton, Steve Young, and Randall Cunningham all ran for thousands of yards before Lamar Jackson was even born. Cam Newton broke the rushing touchdown record for quarterbacks back in 2016 and keeps adding to that total.

But only one has ever really played a style that mirrors Jackson’s. That’s former Falcons and Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.

Vick was a rare type of elusive, capable of breaking ankles with jukes and spins so fast Nike made an iconic commercial about it. He’s the all-time rushing leader among quarterbacks with 6,109 yards. No other passer has reached 5,000 yet. That he had a cannon for an arm was just the cherry on top for Vick.

So it’s no small thing to say Jackson is a better version than Vick. But it feels a little safer to say when Vick already said it himself.

More recently, Vick told Yahoo Sports that he never expected to see a player like Jackson in the NFL.

“I never thought I’d see another guy come into the NFL that looks like me,” Vick said. “I really didn’t. Like, where is he gonna come from? What is he gonna look like? How can he do what I did? Can it be done? [But] when I watch Lamar, I’m in shock.”

Jackson, in the meantime, has soaked up the comparison.

“It’s definitely (great) to have a guy you grew up watching all the time, doing all this spectacular stuff, to have my name mentioned with his is pretty cool,” Jackson said of Vick comparisons.

The similarity is why Madden let Vick break the news that Jackson became the fastest quarterback in the game’s history.

Is Vick’s assertion that Jackson is better still true now that the latter is in the NFL? By just about every metric, yep, it sure is.

Jackson is well ahead in passing stats

The era that Jackson plays in does him plenty of favors. League-wide records were set for passer rating (92.9), completion percentage (64.9 percent) and touchdown passes (847) during Jackson’s rookie year. During Vick’s rookie season in 2001, the average NFL passer rating was 78.5 and the league completion percentage was 59 percent.

Still, Jackson has been an above-average passer in touchdowns and passer rating in 2019. Vick didn’t crack the top half of the league in any of those stats until he was 10th in touchdown passes in 2006, his sixth season in the NFL and his final year with the Falcons.

Vick never threw five touchdown passes in an NFL game. Jackson did it in his eighth career start.

Jackson has never been given much credit for his throwing ability. But no matter how you cut it, he’s been a passing threat early in his career in a way Vick wasn’t until much later on.

Jackson edges Vick in rushing too

In Week 6, Jackson became the first player to pass for over 200 yards and rush for more than 150 yards in a regular season game. He also became the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to record three 100-yard rushing games in their first two seasons.

In Week 10, Jackson broke free with a highlight reel-worthy touchdown for 46 yards — one yard more than the longest touchdown run of Vick’s career.

To further add to his numbers, Jackson surpassed Vick’s single-season rushing record for a quarterback on Week 15’s Thursday Night Football game against the Jets. Jackson needed just 23 yards rushing to pass Vick’s mark of 1,039 yards he set in 2006. Jackson’s second snap of the game saw him scamper or a 20-yard gain, so he only needed three more.

He picked up 2 yards on his next scramble, tying Vick’s record. Then he picked up 5 yards, all in the first quarter, to get the record!

For as dynamic and breathtaking as Vick was, he only averaged 42.7 rushing yards per game over the course of his career.

Jackson isn’t way ahead at 59.2 yards per game (through Week 13), but that average is misleading. It’s skewed by nine games that he didn’t start during the 2018 season. As a starter, Jackson’s averaged over 75 rushing yards. With that pace, he’d break Vick’s rushing yards record in about five or six seasons, assuming he stays healthy.

Only Robert Griffin III got to 1,000 career rushing yards as fast as Jackson, and he was a starter from Day 1 in Washington.

Vick at his best was a special football player. The statistics say that Jackson is even better.