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Madden gets its fastest QB ever, and a video game legend congratulates him

Lamar Jackson’s speed rating beats Madden 2004’s Michael Vick

Seen from behind, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson tries to throw the ball as a Cincinnati Bengals defensive back closes in for a sack.
Lamar Jackson, in last year’s Madden NFL 19.
EA Tiburon/Electronic Arts
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Lamar Jackson, the fleet quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, is rated 96 in speed in the latest Madden NFL 20 update — making him the fastest quarterback in Madden history, surpassing one of the greatest video game athletes of all time.

That would be Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons in Madden NFL 2004, remembered alongside Jeremy Roenick and Tecmo Bo Jackson as one of the last great overpowered video game athletes. Sixteen years of live service and weekly roster updates have since made superhuman players obsolete, as rating science has gotten better and the ability to rerate and rebalance the game has sifted out anomalies.

Jackson’s 7.1 yards per rushing attempt leads all NFL runners, and his 897 rushing yards is ninth in the league overall. On Monday, he led the Ravens to a 45-6 throttling of defending NFC champion Los Angeles, running for 95 yards on eight carries while throwing five touchdowns.

Those were, ahem, ordinary results for Madden 2004 Vick, rated 95 in SPD. Vick was also rated 95 overall, with 94 acceleration to Jackson’s 93, meaning he hits top speed slightly faster. Vick also had a whopping 97 throwing power to Jackson’s 91.

Throwing accuracy has been broken out differently in the 16 years since Madden NFL 2004, but it looks like Vick has a slight edge there, with 84; Jackson’s average of throwing accuracy, short, medium, and deep, is 84.67. But if you add in his 88 throwing on the run, and 89 throwing under pressure, it goes up to 85.6.

Still, it bears mentioning that Vick’s ratings were on the disc, and immutable. Jackson’s SPD has risen by 11 in the nearly four months since Madden 20 launched. Where Jackson really has an edge over Vick in running, however, is his 69 (nice) ball carrying. Vick had a 54 CAR, and his high risk of coughing the ball up was a notorious check on his his otherworldly power. It still didn’t stop players from making an eleventeen-step drop and rollout before spearing Peerless Price on a fly pattern to convert 4th-and-31 from their own 10.

In a news release, EA Sports noted that Jackson is just as popular with Madden fans. The company’s telemetry gave him 704 million rushing yards among the player base (yes, really, EA keeps track of this). His 6.3 million rushing touchdowns are also the most since launch.

Jackson’s milestone comes a week after Christian McCaffrey, the Carolina Panthers running back, was given a 99 overall rating, becoming the youngest player to reach that summit. McCaffrey, who started the season rated 91, joined five other running backs — including Hall-of-Famers Barry Sanders, Marshall Faulk, and LaDainian Tomlinson — in getting a 99 OVR at some point in their Madden careers.

To celebrate Jackson’s speed rating, Vick presented Jackson with the cleats from an EA Sports-Nike collaboration, commemorating Jackson’s otherworldly talent. The shoes are a variation on the Nike Vapor Untouchable Pro 3 that Jackson already wears; they feature tributes to his 96 SPD and “Not bad for a RB,” a reference to the dismissive scouting that had Jackson, a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at Louisville, as better suited to running back. “Whoever said it to Lamar, now they’re eating those words,” Vick said.

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