A lightning rod for sports talk debate.
Apologists will point to the lack of playmakers the Ravens have fielded to support his cause at quarterback. They’ll also talk about the revolving door of inadequacy that sits outside the office set up for the team’s offensive coordinator. All of which they’ll argue, positions the team’s franchise quarterback for failure.
Detractors will claim that Flacco doesn’t seem interested in perfecting the subtle nuances of the game that separate the great ones from the average Joes, and that he is fundamentally inefficient, which leads to less than ideal accuracy and a dearth of explosive plays.
Both sides make valid points.
But when the 2018 season kicks off, Flacco will have to do something he’s rarely done – start fast. If he doesn’t that shadow hanging over his shoulder named Lamar, will loom larger. Never before has Flacco’s job security been threatened the way it could be if he doesn’t produce immediately. And given the following stats that Flacco has compiled, shared by The Big Lead, ranking the 33 quarterbacks who have thrown at least 800 passes in the last five years, that fast start will be a challenge:
- Last in yards per attempt;
- Last in touchdown pass percentage;
- Last in touchdown to interception ratio;
- 32nd in passer rating (ahead of only Blake Bortles);
- Last in net yards per pass attempt;
- Last in adjusted net yards per pass attempt.
If Flacco gets the hook in 2018, it will likely signal a season on the brink that could cost John Harbaugh his job, assuming of course he hasn’t already been given another extension. And if that hook comes, don’t be surprised if Harbaugh’s call to the bullpen is for Robert Griffin, III.
The last thing the Ravens want to do is destroy the confidence of their starting quarterback of the future by throwing him to the wolves during an unraveling season. Sure, Lamar Jackson could see some time in ’18, and probably should. But the coming season won’t be RG III’s first rodeo. He’s weathered controversy. He’s stared into the bright lights of the media. He’s battle tested.
The Ravens didn’t bring in RGIII because he’s a complement to the offense run by Joe Flacco. He’s wearing a Ravens uniform because he’s a bridge to the future. Even if Flacco surprises most observers and becomes a willing mentor, how much can he really help a quarterback who possesses a skillset so vastly different. If you think about it, Jackson is Flacco turned inside out.
RGIII can closely relate to Jackson. He is more likely to see things through Jackson’s eyes and is therefore the more likely mentor. That isn’t a knock on Flacco. It’s simply a physiological fact. Give the Ravens credit for having the foresight to reel in RGIII on a very team-friendly contract that could have easily been shed had they not drafted Jackson. The signing now makes more sense.
AND THEN THERE WERE THREE
The only times that I can recall the Ravens carrying three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster were in 1999 (Scott Mitchell, Tony Banks, Stoney Case) and 2007 (Steve McNair, Kyle Boller, Troy Smith). But for the reasons stated above, there’s a very good chance that we can add 2018 to the list, the first such occurrence with John Harbaugh at the helm. And that could create some mild divisiveness in the quarterback room.
If Flacco succeeds, all should go well and then RGIII will amount to nothing more than a luxury. It could also position the former Redskin to be Jackson’s backup in 2019 if the Ravens opt to part ways with Flacco.
But if things go awry for Joe, the pairing of RGIII and Jackson will become more important and it could split the positional grouping. It’s difficult to envision Flacco as a supportive backup. From the outside looking in, he just isn’t wired that way. Keep in mind, instead of competing with Tyler Palko at Pitt, Flacco opted to leave for Delaware where he started in 2006 and 2007. Palko left Pitt in 2006. Let’s also not forget how in 2013 he publicly dissed the coaching staff and their gadget plays that were once installed for Tyrod Taylor.
A NUMBERS GAME
If the Ravens do keep 3 QBs as expected, it places pressure on other positional groupings where there may be an abundance of comparable talent. If Breshad Perriman can be the player he was towards the back end of the 2016 season, paring down to six receivers could be difficult but necessary. That said, an even bigger challenge could be at cornerback, where Ozzie Newsome has repeatedly said, “You can never have enough good corners.”
Jimmy Smith is said to be on the fast track to recovery. He’ll be motivated because his contract suggests that he could be a 2019 cap casualty. Smith’s cap charge then is $16.175M and he represents a $9.5M cap savings if released. Brandon Carr will be 32 next week and if released today, he represents a $4M cap savings this season, $5M next season. After these two veterans are: Marlon Humphrey (21); Tavon Young (24); Maurice Canady (23); Jaylen Hill (23); Anthony Averett (23); and Darious Williams (25) UDFA.
Last season the Ravens carried just 6 corners.
You are now free to do the math…
2019 MOCK DRAFT…SERIOUSLY?
Last year in Todd McShay’s “way-too-early” 2018 first-round mock draft, only 12 of the players listed by the ESPN draft analyst, were actually selected in round 1. Performances, injuries and as we witnessed with the Ravens third-round pick, Orlando Brown, Jr., even the Combine can heavily shift the first-round board.
Using the Football Outsiders current projected records for NFL teams in 2018, here’s who McShay has the Ravens taking with the 21st overall pick.
Whether you like the pick or not, the acclaimed analytics site for the moment, projects the Ravens as a one-and-done playoff team.