Lamar Jackson's sensational start to the 2022 season is "a natural next step", according to Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who always believed the quarterback could be "everything he is".
The Ravens improved to 2-1 with a 37-26 win over the New England Patriots on Sunday, in which Jackson threw four touchdown passes and rushed for 107 yards and a further score.
The fifth-year QB became only the second player in NFL history with at least four TD passes, 100 rushing yards and a rushing TD in a game after the Philadelphia Eagles' Randall Cunningham – also against the Patriots – in Week 9 of the 1990 season.
But Jackson also had three TD passes and 100 rushing yards in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins.
Only seven other QBs (including Cunningham) have previously enjoyed such a performance, and none of them have done so more than once. Jackson has achieved that feat in consecutive games and four times across his career.
Surely a contender again this year, Jackson was the MVP in 2019 when he led the league in passing TDs (36), as he does now (10).
The failure to agree a new Ravens contract in the offseason would likely have made Jackson more determined to bounce back from an injury-hit 2021, but Harbaugh has never doubted his star man.
"No one has to tell me about Lamar Jackson," the Baltimore coach said.
"I believe in him. I love him. I just believed him the first day we drafted him, the first day we talked about drafting him. I felt like he could be everything he is.
"I just think it's a natural next step in terms of like finding his rhythm during the week, what he's looking at, how he studies defenses, how he breaks defenses down.
"It's not a lightbulb thing; it's an evolution of studying the game that you see quarterbacks go through."
Jackson offered his own take on his development, adding: "I'd just say [it is down to] maturity, just because of my age, just knowing the game of football just basically inside out.
"You've just got to stay locked in. That's probably the thing, just being locked in no matter what's going on during the game."