Throwing for 5,000 passing yards in an NFL season used to be jaw-dropping. Hall of Famer Dan Marino was the first to do so when he recorded 5,084 yards through the air in 16 games during his 1984 NFL MVP season. The football world didn't see another such campaign until 24 years later when New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees went for 5,069 in 2008. Since 2010, there have been 13 more occurrences, including four more from Brees. Hall of Famer Peyton Manning's 2013 NFL MVP season stands above them all with an NFL record 5,477 passing yards in 16 games.
However, 2019 NFL MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson has bigger plans in mind than just 5,000 yards after signing the on Thursday -- a five-year, $260 million deal. He's looking to become the first player in NFL history to throw for 6,000 yards, 523 more than Manning's current record.
"I'm very eager," Jackson Ravens' 2023 season at the press conference for his new deal on Thursday. "I think I told someone, I want to throw for like 6,000 yards with the weapons we have. I'm not an individual, award type of guy. I just want to do that because no one's ever done that before, and we have the weapons to do that. ... Just can't wait to get rolling."when asked about the
In Jackson's defense, two of the top four highest passing yardage seasons have come in the last two years since a 17th game was added to the regular season: Tom Brady's 5,316 in the 2021 season (third-most all time) and Patrick Mahomes' 5,250 last season (fourth-most all time).
Most passing yards
single season, NFL history
While it's likely going to take at least another five to 10 years before someone throws for 6,000 passing yards in a season, here's the case for why Jackson could have a season that would place him on the single-season passing yards all-time list.
New Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken
Under former offensive coordinator Greg Roman (2019-2022), Baltimore was the NFL's most run-first football team, bar none. The Ravens averaged 175.2 rushing yards per game, far and away the most in the league. The Tennessee Titans, the home of running back Derrick Henry, averaged the second-most (143.2) in the NFL in that span, 32 yards per game fewer. No team ran the football at a higher rate than the Ravens, obviously, under Roman as Baltimore ran the football on 51.1% of its offensive plays. The Ravens were the only team above 50% with the Titans 48.8% run-play rate ranking second.
Jackson was prolific in that offense, becoming the fastest player to surpass 100 career passing touchdowns (101) and 4,000 career rushing yards (4,437). The current peak of Jackson's production, both passing and rushing, was his 2019 MVP season when he threw for a career-high 3,127 yards and ran for an NFL quarterback-record 1,206 yards. That 2019 Ravens team ran for a league team-record 3,296 yards that year, and ran for the fourth-most (3,701) by a team the following year. Effective, but it put a ceiling on Jackson's development as a passer.
Enter new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Monken is basking in the glow of calling plays for the back-to-back defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs where he also was hands-on with the quarterbacks as their position coach during their championship runs. Monken also has four seasons of prior experience as an NFL play-caller, serving as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers OC from 2016-2018 and the Cleveland Browns OC in 2019. During his final two seasons with the Buccaneers, Tampa Bay had a top-five passing offense each year. Monken's Buccaneers led the NFL in passing yards per game (320.3) in 2018 with Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterbacks. No team since has averaged more passing yards per game since. That has Jackson excited about the scheme transition.
"I heard from the guys that the offense is looking pretty smooth," Jackson said. "From what I see, it looks different, and, I'm liking it so far."
Jackson will be the most gifted quarterback Monken has ever worked with, so there's a chance Monken's first season with the Ravens could be the most explosive offense he's ever called.
The best collection of pass catchers Jackson has ever had
Another reason why Jackson could have one of the more explosive passing seasons all time in 2023 is because he is now equipped with the best supporting cast of his career.
The Ravens spent a combined $262.7 million on the offensive side of the ball since 2019 (prior to Jackson's extension), when Jackson became their full-time starting quarterback. That was the least amount of money spent on offense in the ENTIRE NFL in that span. Their wide receiver group accounted for $47.2 million of that total since 2019, the second-least amount of money spent on wide receivers in that span ahead of only the Pittsburgh Steelers' league-low $34.2 million.
Naturally, Ravens wide receivers have ranked dead last in receiving yards per game in three of the last four seasons since 2019. Tight end Mark Andrews, Jackson's top target, has 3,761 receiving yards since 2019, the second-most among tight ends behind only Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce's 5,108 receiving yards in that span. The only other Raven with over 1,000 receiving yards from 2019-2022 is wide receiver Marquise Brown (2,361), the team's first-round pick in 2019. He was traded to the Arizona Cardinals last offseason in exchange for a first-round pick that eventually turned into center Tyler Linderbaum.
Ravens receiving yards per game by WRs
|SEASON||RECEIVING YPG||NFL RANK|
That lack of investment has also led to a lack of continuity at the Ravens' offensive skill positions, further capping Jackson's growth as a passer. Since 2018, when Jackson was drafted, their most common combination of five skill players was running back J.K. Dobbins, wide receiver Marquise Brown, wide receiver Miles Boykin, wide receiver Willie Snead and tight end Mark Andrews. They played a measly 97 snaps together. That ranks 120th among all NFL skill-player combos in that span.
Baltimore's 2023 offseason has changed that narrative with the Flowers and Beckham Jr in addition to former first-round receiver Rashod Bateman, plus tight ends Isaiah Likely and Mark Andrews, his top target since coming to Baltimore, in his Thursday presser. Those five give Jackson a chance to produce as a passer like he never has before.to a one-year, fully guaranteed $15 million contract as well as with the first-round draft selection of Boston College wide receiver . Jackson shouted out those two teammates
More pass attempts equals less hits taken as a runner
Roman went out of his way to defend Jackson's dual-threat style of play and his recent injuries across the last two seasons (10 games missed from 2021-2022 after not missing any due to injury from 2018-2020) in, saying Jackson's 10 missed from 2021-2022 were due to hits taken when passing inside the pocket, not when he's scrambling around the football field like the Tasmanian devil. With Jackson likely to drop back to pass more often in Monken's offense, conventional wisdom would say that the quarterback is less likely to get rocked there than as a runner. His passing inside the pocket, better protected by his offensive line, has been more effective than scrambling outside the pocket.
More passes, particularly from inside the pocket could very well lead to fewer hits taken by Jackson, which means more opportunity to rip passes down the field all season long.
Lamar Jackson career passing inside pocket vs. outside
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The desire to live up to the biggest contract in NFL history
The final reason for why Jackson could have an all-time passing yardage season is simple: his drive to live up to the life-changing, generational wealth he fought for and earned throughout a multiyear negotiation with the Ravens. Jackson has spent the last few months calculating his every move, like when he tweeted that he wanted a trade out of Baltimoreat the Annual League Meeting in Phoenix back in March. Jackson wouldn't have thrown out the 6,000 yards number out of the blue if he hadn't spent plenty of time contemplating his 2023 goals before his first time speaking with media members in months.
With a new offensive coordinator, an improved core of playmakers, more passing attempts and a laser-like focus to perform, there's plenty of reasons why Jackson could have one of the NFL's top passing seasons ever in 2023.