Cam Newton: The Ripple Effect

By Chris Todds (@ctdk1980)

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Image Credit: Jacob Kupferman / Getty Images

With Cam Newton currently recuperating from his various ailments, and Kyle Allen’s lustre swiftly wearing off during their last 2 losses, which has left the Panthers very much on the outside of the playoff race, big decisions will have to be made throughout the franchise over the next few months. Ownership, coaching staff and contract extensions could all be affected by Cam Newton’s situation with the Panthers, never mind the dominoes that could fall throughout the league.

David Tepper, the owner of the team, made his own statement when he spoke with a group of reporters last week, giving support to Newton that was lukewarm at best, saying ‘no decision had yet been made on his future’. It was certainly intriguing that Tepper rejected the opportunity to throw his support behind his franchise QB, and presumably Newton himself noted the lack of enthusiasm.

Lets take a look at the various people who have a stake in the former MVP’s future prospects.


Marty Hurney


During his 2nd stint as GM of the Panthers, Hurney gave Newton his initial extension in 2015. With that contract expiring after the 2020 season, Newton has work to do to persuade the Panthers organisation to give him another massive contract.

The Panthers’ have a large group of players currently scheduled to hit free agency this spring, including Shaq Thompson, Mario Addison, James Bradberry and Gerald McCoy, with only approximately $40m of cap space, plus they may have to deal with star Christian McCaffrey’s contract. Cam Newton’s release or trade would free up $19m of space, and leave only $2m of dead money on the cap.

While Cam’s contract for next year is a relative bargain of $21m, if their medical department has concerns over his future recovery and prospects, could they possibly decide to trade one of the most important players in franchise history?


Ron Rivera


Riverboat Ron has an expiring contract in 2020 meaning if David Tepper and GM Marty Hurney see him as being their coach for the future, he’d be likely to receive an extension during the upcoming offseason.

However, Tepper’s recent comments have shown the owner is not willing to settle for mediocre, Rivera’s record as a HC is 76-61-1 (0.554), and his Panthers have yet to record back to back winning seasons in his 9 seasons as HC.

If the top brass decide they need to reload at QB without Cam and rebuild the roster for the future, they may well look for a new coach to lead that process.


Christian McCaffrey


As possibly the best all-around back in the league there’s little doubt that electric playmaker Christian McCaffrey will remain a part of the Panthers for the foreseeable future. He has 1 year left on his deal, with a fifth year option too, but is eligible to receive a new contract for the first time during the upcoming offseason, and will undoubtedly be a priority for the Panthers’ hierarchy.

However, as previously mentioned, Carolina have a lot of decisions to make over their upcoming 2020 free agency class with limited cap space to work.

After Zeke Elliott’s holdout during this years camp will RUN-CMC follow his lead and insist on a new deal before reporting for work? It’s worth noting his agent is Joel Segal, who represented both Chris Johnson and Khalil Mack during their holdouts.


Kyle Allen


The Panthers’ replacement for Cam Newton is also a restricted free agent this spring, if Carolina decide to retain Newton he may look to use his performances this year to persuade teams that he could be a bridge QB at the least.

While his performances have tailed off badly over the last few weeks if he can finish the season strongly, he could have an opportunity to win a starting job in a training camp next summer.


2020 QB free agents


If Carolina do decide to cut ties with Newton, he would join a crop of veteran and possible bridge quarterbacks (possibly including a GOAT). While some of these will almost certainly end up re-signing with their current teams, at the moment signal callers of the calibre of Brees, Brady, Winston, Bridgewater, Mariota, Tannehill are scheduled to become free agents this spring.

Also, there could be movement in the trade market with Rosen, Dalton and Trubisky all facing some questions over their futures.

With half of the teams in the league looking for improvements at the position, almost certainly Carolina would have a robust trade market for the former NFL MVP.

Tampa Bay, Chicago, Denver, Tennessee, Miami, Oakland, Cincinatti, LA Chargers would all make some sense as trade partners.


2020 QB draft prospects


There is also the prospect of Carolina becoming a serious player in the QB stakes early in next years NFL draft, while they did spend a 3rd round pick on Will Grier this past year, he has yet to see the field in regular season action.

With Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, Jake Fromm, Jacob Eason and the recently injured Tua Tagovailoa all potential 1st round picks, the Panthers will be doing their due diligence on the prospects entering the league.

While the question marks will remain, and are unlikely to disappear until Cam Newton returns to the field, the best option for all concerned would probably see Cam Newton play out his current deal in Charlotte, proving his fitness and durability prior to signing a new deal to play out his career in the area he has come synonymous with.

However, there’s a long way to go before we can have any certainty about anything with Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. When we do get certainty, the ripple effect willhave huge ramifications.

Full10Lookaheads – Week 10

By Lawrence Vos and Tim Monk

Sunday night football


Massive game for those chasing the division titles in the NFC and NFC North as the Dallas Cowboys host the Minnesota Vikings.

With Philadelphia on a bye, the Cowboys need to win to keep their heads just in front of Philadelphia and it’s looking fairly likely that the 2nd placed team in the East could miss out on the playoffs.

Minnesota at 6-3 still sit one game behind Green Bay over in the North and whilst, this one is possibly less important for the #SKOL army, they don’t want to run the risk of running in to the cowboys for the wildcard and losing on the head to head tie breaker.

It may be a tight, cagey affair on Sunday Night Football, and that’s just Kirk Cousins we are talking about. Whilst Kirk most recently won vs the Redskins on Primetime television on TNF, it is more than well documented that Cousins can have the tendency to be a rabbit in the floodlights when push comes to shove.

Can Captain Kirk pull his socks up and lead his Minnesota team to a victory this week? His current record of 6-13 in primetime games suggests not.


Life after Cam

Image Credit: JEFF SINER

It’s going to be interesting watching how Kyle Allen performs down the stretch now that he is going to be starting from here on out.

Cam Newton has recently landed on Injured reserve, leaving us to wonder whether Cam Newton will ever be seen in a Carolina jersey again (look out for an article on that coming your way) but now you have to debate whether the pressure is now more on Kyle Allen to perform as he is “the guy” or whether there is less pressure on him as he no longer has to look over his shoulder or live in Cam’s shadow.

Kyle Allen does have the pressure of getting the Panthers to the playoffs though as they are right there in the thick of the wildcard race and that adventure makes it’s next stop at Lambeau Field.


Lights, Kamara, Action!

Image Credit: SI.com

Some of the NFL’s biggest superstars should be returning to the field this week with Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes and New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara should be available to suit up for their respective teams.

It’s fair to say though that the rest of the roster and the Head coaches has performed admirably in their absences over the past few weeks.

It says a lot about the adaptability of these teams to be able to read off a different script and still pull out the level of performances that they have. Unfortunately now for the rest of the league, two of th most potent and high octane offences get arguably, their main cogs back.

Everyone beware!


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Will Wilson win in the West?

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Image Credit: John Bazemore / AP

MVP frontrunner Russell Wilson and the Seahawks travel to Levi’s stadium to face the last undefeated remaining team in the 49ers.

A win for the Seahawks here and the NFC West is all to play for. A win for the 49ers, and the NFC West is pretty much all wrapped up. Russell Wilson is coming off a 5TD performance vs the Buccaneers last week so confidence couldn’t be much higher, and Josh Gordon has just walked through the door.

However, he will need to be at the peak of his powers once again as he faces one of the best defences in the league away from home to stand any chance of picking up the win on Monday Night Football.


Nowhere for haters to Hyde any more

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Image Credit: Ian Walton / AP

We are just over the half-way point of the season and the general trend for feeding a lead back seems to be on the rise from twelve months ago, or maybe there has simply been less injuries at the RB position.

Standing at number eight in the 2019 rushing charts is a back that has bounced around the league and is now on his fifth team. This season, based on current projections, Carlos Hyde will break all of his own personal rushing records, and easily have his first 1,000+ season.

Hyde had two monster runs at Wembley last week, even if the longest resulted in a fumble on the goal line. His opening carry was as important as it was a tone-setter for the Texans – a 9 yard dart. That drive ended with Houston taking a 3-0 lead. Hyde ended the game with 160 yards rushing and the respect of over 80,000 fans.

For someone who never settled in Cleveland or Jacksonville, and didn’t even make it to the regular season in KC, this is a genuine comeback player of the year candidate. No need to Hyde in the shadows any more Carlos.


We’re all going on a Chubb-Hunt

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Image Credit: Ron Schwane / AP

Two seasons ago Kareem Hunt led the league in rushing with 1,327 yards, outpacing Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell as a rookie.

Fast forward to Week 10 2019 and Hunt finally makes his season debut for the Cleveland Browns. His last NFL action was over a season ago in the game of the season as the Rams beat the Chiefs 54-51. Hunt was cut by the Chiefs for lying, when questioned, about an incident of domestic abuse that was recorded and went on to be shared on TMZ.

Many people are still divided as to Hunt’s ability to pick up his career after a half-season suspension, and the majority of teams would have stayed away from signing him because of what they saw. It does seem that in the U.S.A. and especially the NFL that players in the main get a second chance despite committing acts that are completely unacceptable.

Hunt has been out a year and starting Browns tailback Nick Chubb is no slouch, but Cleveland do need to snap out of their nightmare stretch and Hunt could offer that spark in the red zone.


Steelers storming back? 

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Image Credit: Philip G. Pavely/USA TODAY Sports

With Big Ben Roethlisberger out for the season it was always going to be an uphill battle for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Following an abysmal 0-3 start Steelers are on a three game win streak and beyond the Rams face the Browns twice, Bengals and Cardinals weeks 11 to 14. Mason Rudolph has been streaky but is hanging in there. The Steelers run game has been a bit under par and James Connor is ruled out of this weekend’s contest. Another big dose of Swiss army knife Jaylen Samuels is expected. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster has been underwhelming 33-459 and 3 touchdowns and the #2 and #3 WRs Dionate Johnson and James Washington have been uninspiring.

Despite all this adversity the Steelers are on a three-game win streak and have only lost once, in an epic tussle against the Ravens, since the start of October. 1-4 to a genuinely possible 9-4 record will save Mike Tomlin his job and put the Steelers in an improbable playoff position. Enjoy Sunday’s game it will be a barnstormer. 


Godwin and Evans epic season wasted

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Image Credit: Mark LoMoglio / AP

What a shame that easily the best wide receiver combination in the NFL at the half-way point, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, are on a 2-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers team.

The Godwin/Evans combo has 104 catches, 1,608 yards and 13 touchdowns. Outside of this pairing any other WR combined have 14 catches for 145 yards and one score. Evans and Godwin have moved the chains 82 times between them to date and together are averaging 100 yards in the air each per game.

Under normal circumstances this pairing would equate to wins, but they are getting thrown the ball from an erratic Jameis Winston who goes from a 5 interception game (at Tottenham v Panthers) to a zero pick impressive display on the road at Seattle.

The Buccs offensive line is part of the problem, with Winston already on the receiving end of 30 sacks. It will be fun to watch this combo battle it out for the most impressive stat line. Who said both are going to the Pro-Bowl – I did right here! 


Doggedly avoiding a cat-astrophe 

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Image Credit: Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports

In a sports league filled with bears, lions, Bengal tigers, jaguars, broncos, rams, panthers, and colts it took a four-legged friend to stroll across an NFL field last week to create a media furore akin to a niptastic Super Bowl reveal.

Some of the best social media and digital activity includes a mocked up Madden 21 cover featuring the black cat along with the Panini Huddle digital trading card app that issued a special cat card with a paw-print autograph. There has been previous animal hijinx on NFL fields before, a simple YouTube search will reveal squirrels and pigeons causing chaos in recent years.

Reality is that there are canines that make it into the seating areas of every NFL stadium every week, even when teams play in London, after all where would we be without a delightful half-time hot dog !!!! 

Can Cam Still Be Carolina’s Superman?

Image Credit: Jeremy Brevard/USA Today

By Chris Todd (@ct1980)

While watching Cam Newton struggling over the past few years, it’s easy to forget just how spectacular and exhilarating his play has been since his rookie year in 2011. Winning rookie of the year honours, setting NFL rookie QB records for both passing and rushing, he lit up the NFL and seemed poised to become one of the faces of the NFL for the foreseeable future.

While details are murky over his latest injury and his timeline for recovery, it’s fair to wonder if we may have already seen the best from the man nicknamed ‘Superman’.  With Kyle Allen performing admirably in his stead through the last two weeks, it may be the Panthers’ top brass choose to ride with Allen rather than risk Newton’s recovery over the rest of the season.

With Newton’s contract up after the 2020 season, it was expected that Cam would sign a new deal to remain a Panther at some point during the season. While those contract talks are surely on hold during his injury lay off, could this also mean the end of his time in Charlotte.

Carolina also selected a QB relatively early in this years draft, taking Will Grier 100th overall with their 3rd round compensatory pick, this was the first QB drafted by the Panthers since selecting Cam at the top of the 2011 draft. Almost certainly, this was intended as a developmental pick rather than as a direct challenge to Newton’s status in the roster.

However, given they already had a young developmental arm in the building in Allen, was this move foreshadowing Newton’s injuries being worse than they were letting on? Newton was bothered by a shoulder injury throughout the second half of the 2018 season and underwent surgery in January of this year to deal with the problem. This surgery led to him missing the Panthers OTA’s although he was able to participate in their training camp. His throwing motion seems to have changed since the surgery, and he was put on a snap count through camp to manage his workload.

Image Credit: Theriotreport.com

With Kyle Allen’s impressive performance in relief, Newton’s shoulder problems and his uncertain recovery from his foot problems, and a top brass of owner and GM who were not insitu when Newton was drafted, could they decide a rebuild is needed? Would they even be willing to enter talks with Newton for a new deal given his injury problems of the last few years?

 As mentioned earlier, Newton’s contract expires after the 2020 season, although he could theoretically be released with only a $2mil dead money charge left on their cap. Much more likely if the Panthers decide to move on, is they will have many suitors eager to take their chances on the once-electrifying playmaker.

The best outcome for all parties would surely be Newton regaining fitness and form and remaining in Charlotte, he has grown synonymous with the Panthers, and has proven to be a hugely popular leader in the locker room. He has built roots in the area, and through his foundation has given a huge amount of time and money to philanthropic causes in the Carolinas. Hopefully, the effervescent, charismatic Superman can once again work his magic.

The Running Man

By Lawrence Vos, 26 May 2019

No I’m not taking about underrated Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, but for a bonus point can you give me the connection between this movie and NFL rushing folklore?

For those of you who didn’t have to Google that one of Arnie’s victims (Fireball) was former Cleveland Browns legendary running back Jim Brown I congratulate you, and for those of you who did I hope you enjoyed adding this to your NFL trivia arsenal.

That was 1987, when a survival-based reality gameshow was a forerunner for the likes of The Hunger Games. Fast forward to 2019 and arguably the best survival-based reality show on our screens now is the NFL.

The Running Man focussed on a very fit human-being, wearing a bright costume, relying on team-mates to help him navigate pitfalls and escape from tough adversaries on-foot (with the exception of Dynamo who was arguably the worst villain in cinematic history. He was 340lb, sang opera, drove a dune buggy and wore an armour plate covered in LEDs.)

Avoiding trouble and helping to lead a team to victory is a very similar set of pursuits to that of a running quarterback in the NFL.

In 2019 we have a top tier of five starting quarterbacks who can be categorised as rushing quarterbacks and then a second tier of five who can be described as mobile but not rushing quarterbacks. Note I am only putting starters in these tiers. The likes of L.A. Rams backup Blake Bortles (a respectable and surprising 365 rushing yards, 6.3 yards a carry and a first down on almost half his runs in 2018) do not count.

Tier-1
Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, Cam Newton, Deshaun Watson.

Tier-2

Patrick Mahomes, Marcus Mariota, Dak Prescott, Mitch Trubisky, Jameis Winston.

Tier-1 Rankings

So let’s look at Tier-1 and see how they rank for 2019 fantasy draft purposes.

5 – Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

Murray, the number one overall pick in this year’s draft is a phenom before he even steps onto an NFL field. The Cards pushed all their chips into the middle of the table for the former Oklahoma signal-caller, they even traded away Josh Rosen, their first round pick from 2018, to the Dolphins, to avoid any talk of competition. Murray won the 2019 Heisman Trophy for a remarkable 2018 season which included breaking the 1,000-yard barrier on the ground. The problem with projecting Murray’s impact in the NFL in 2019 is not due to the height issue (standing at 5f 10 inches) it’s more his track record. Murray originally began his college career in 2015 at Texas A&M. In his freshman year Murray served at the backup to Kyle Allen (now backup to Cam Newton in Carolina) before getting playing time when Allen performed poorly. Murray ran for 335 yards and a single score, but was again relegated to the bench by the time the Aggies reached the Music City Bowl. Keeping it all very incestuous Texas A&M lost that Bowl game to Louisville 27-21, going down to game MVP Cardinal quarterback Lamar Jackson (more later) who had 226 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns, including a 61-yard effort in the second quarter. Another quirk from that game was that two scorers for Texas A&M are now Murray’s target team-mates – WR Christian Kirk and converted TE Ricky Seals-Jones. Murray didn’t see action in 2016 as it was criteria of his transfer to Oklahoma, and in 2017 he had one start as back-up to none other than 2018 first overall draft pick Baker ‘wake up dangerous’ Mayfield.

Prediction

Already anointed as the Cardinals starting quarterback Murray will be looking to use his feet to keep drives alive and find his former college colleagues, as well as feeding future Canton enshrine Larry Fitzgerald. There will be a significantly increased workload for running back David Johnson in terms of dump-offs and screens, who will look to get 2,000 all-purpose scrimmage yards himself.

2019 projection – 431 rushing yards, 6 touchdowns.

4 – Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

Cam is not mortal, he is built like a Greek god, and is close to indestructible. 4,808 rushing yards and 58 touchdowns in his first eight seasons is nothing short of Hall of Fame numbers for a quarterback. Newton has missed just five games in his career, and his ground total is 150th in NFL history, for ALL players, and 14th amongst ALL active players. After arthroscopic surgery earlier in the year, to fix a lingering throwing arm injury, Newton is being eased back into action at OTA’s (organised team activities) in May, but will be fighting fit for September.  

He missed two games in 2018, but using his average rushing yards per-game this would have equated to 558 ground yards, which would have put him above 2018’s #3 rushing quarterback Deshaun Watson. Newton is now joined by one of the top three overall running backs in the NFL in the form of Christian McCaffrey, who will take away carries and scoring opportunities from the former number one draft pick. Newton has averaged 110 rushing attempts over the past three seasons and whilst his attempts in 2018, under new offensive co-ordinator Norv Turner, was the second lowest in his career, it’s no cause for concern as he nearly reached his statutory half-century.

Prediction

Cam has rushing the football in his DNA and no coach will be able to remove that. Defences, especially those in his division, are used to this form of torture, but any average linebacker is going to lose the war of attrition. Newton is consistent and although his rushing touchdowns hit an all-time low in 2018 (4) he can still provide that fantasy scoring boost that Brady, Brees and even Mahomes are unable to.

2019 projection – 525 rushing yards, 5 touchdowns

3 – Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

Entering his third season, Deshaun Watson has learnt a lot, but unfortunately for him he has been sacked a lot. In 2018, his first season playing all 16 regular season games Watson was sacked a rib-crushing 62 times (the Texans were the only team to allow over 60 sacks). This can be attributed to two main factors – Watson holds onto the ball too long, but he is doing so in-part as he is contemplating scrambling out of the pocket and finding a crease or a rushing lane. Watson managed a very respectable 551 yards on the ground and 5 scores in 2018, but part of this output was generated as he was trying to make the most of a collapsed pocket or a blown block by a running back. Despite taking snaps in front of five colanders with legs Watson made the 2018 Pro-Bowl and proved that he can command a team and stay injury free. In fact, he was the first player in NFL history to have 4,000+ passing yards, 25+ passing touchdowns, 500+ rushing yards, and 5 rushing touchdowns in a single season. The former College National Championship winner (2016) had one 1,000-yard rushing season at Clemson (2015) losing to powerhouse Alabama in the Championship game (where he ran for 43 yards and a score).

Prediction

Watson needs to remain upright for longer, but he also needs to be smarter with his feet. The Texans wisely drafted two offensive linemen in the first two rounds of the 2019 Draft (Tytus Howard #23 overall and Max Scharping #55) to relive some pressure but like Cam Newton Watson is a smooth natural runner with excellent instincts to find space. Houston’s new offensive coordinator Tim Kelly is a quiet in-house appointment. This is Kelly’s sixth year in the Texans offense, having served as tight-ends coach the last two years (fun fact Kelly’s brother Dennis is an offensive lineman for the Tennessee Titans). Coach Kelly will be asked to further develop Watson, so expect much of the same and a small increase in Watson’s ground scores.

2019 Projection – 580 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns

2 – Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Perhaps the biggest fantasy surprise from the 2018 Rookie quarterback crop was Josh Allen. Despite the Bills deluded decision to start Week 1 with Nathan Peterman as their starter, in a 3-47, yes 3-47 loss to the Ravens, that experiment was shorty canned and Allen became the #1 in Week 2. Where Allen excelled was his fast feet. In his three years at Wyoming Allen ran for a solid but unspectacular 767 yards and 12 scores, averaging a pedestrian 3.2yards a carry. As a result, not many people were prepared for Allen’s 631 yards rushing, 8 touchdowns and two NFL records between Weeks 12-14 (first quarterback to rush for at least 95 yards in three consecutive games and most rushing yards by a quarterback in a 3 game span –  335). Allen only started 11 games (and played in 12) as a rookie, so by the magic of averages he would have gained 841 yards, the sixth greatest rushing output by a quarterback in NFL history. Allen was let down by a very average skill group in 2018, which has since been boosted by wide-receiver free-agent signings Cole Beasley and John Brown and rookie running back Devin Singletary. As the unquestioned starter Allen can become a fantasy monster, not only by rushing but by having better targets across the field. Watch out for fellow second-year player wide-receiver Robert Foster who can surpass 1,000 yards and eight scores himself.

Prediction

Allen is one of those rare breed of players that has transitioned from a smaller college team to become a starting NFL signal-caller. He joins current starting quarterbacks like Joe Flacco (Delaware) Derek Carr (Fresno State) and perhaps the best example – ‘Big Ben’ Roethlisberger who hailed from Miami of Ohio. Allen is in a position to get the Bills into a Wild Card position in the next two seasons, something mobile passer Tyrod Taylor managed with Buffalo in 2017. With a 16 game slate Allen can shine, and that includes over 700 yards on the ground.

2019 projection – 757 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns

1 – Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

We have been here before back in 2012 when slight-framed but much-hyped first round draft pick Robert Griffin III rushed for 815 yards in 15 games. The 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year sustained a second injury of the season against the Seahawks in the playoffs that season, and since then he has rushed for 855 yards and three touchdowns over the next five seasons. Now Jackson’s backup in Baltimore RG3 is a cautionary tale of taking a young but slim-built quarterback and letting him run a lot early. L-Jax who did not run a 40 yard-dash at the 2018 Scouting Combine is arguably faster than RG3 and up there with the fastest NFL starting quarterback ever, Michael Vick. Vick, despite his jail time, managed an incredible rushing total in 13 playing seasons, gaining 6,109 yards including a mind-bending NFL quarterback rushing record of 1,039 yards in 2005. L-Jax has the skills to actually break this record, and with 16 games and no Joe Flacco on the sidelines watching his every move, it is possible this happens in 2019. L-Jax gained 695 rushing yards in 7 starts as a rookie, and extrapolating that to a full season would equate to 1,270 yards, which would obliterate Vick’s record.

Prediction

It’s not sustainable to expect Jackson to run for almost 1,300 rushing yards, but if we look at his 7 starts (546 rushing yards) and extend that out to 16 games, at 78 yards a game, that 1,248 in a season. The Ravens will be hell-bent on developing L-Jax as a passer, but they will no doubt allow him to display his ghost-like rushing ability. His His 4,132 rushing yards in college (including Bowl games) ranks 109 all-time for ALL players, including running-backs, so we are talking about a special talent. Providing he can stay injury free, which he has managed for the past three-years, L-Jax can deliver the greatest rushing season by a quarterback ever.

2019 projection – 1,115 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns.