No formalities today, let’s jump right into the most polarizing topic in Baltimore sport in recent years:
Joe Flacco vs Lamar Jackson
It seems everyone has an opinion on the matter, and with each and every snap Lamar Jackson takes while Joe Flacco heals on the sidelines, the animosity towards the opposing side of the debate seems to grow more fierce.
Jackson throws behind his receiver?
“I TOLD YOU HE CAN’T THROW!”
Jackson throws a strike to Mark Andrews?
“DEEP BALL ACCURACY & A TIGHT SPIRAL, I TOLD YOU HE CAN CHUCK IT!”
Ravens call a timeout because Jackson can’t get the play out in time?
“SEE? HE CAN’T RUN AN OFFENSE! THEY SHOULD’VE KNOWN THAT WHEN THEY SAW HIS WONDERLIC SCORE!”
Ravens win again?
“JACKSON IS 2-0 AFTER THE RAVENS WENT 0-4 UNDER JOE BEFORE HIS INJURY!”
Of course, with every one of these arguments – really any argument you can make in favor of Joe or Lamar starting – there are caveats and exceptions that aren’t being discussed. Using the above examples, it’s easy to point out Lamar throwing behind his receivers, but maybe mention that Flacco has a tendency to do the same thing too?
You can also take the deep shot to Andrews from yesterday’s 34-17 victory, and while it was surely on the money? He was wide open for days, and even the Brock Osweilers and A.J. McCarrons of the NFL can hit that target. Jackson did struggle with play calls and force burned timeouts, but this kid is eight quarters deep starting under center – there’s a learning curve, and fans need to be patient.
And of course with the ‘wins’ debate, I don’t think I need to clarify that both wins with Lamar under center were against teams the Ravens would surely have beaten with Flacco, or even Bob Griffin III, under center.
So let’s take off the blinders, put down the hate for either signal caller, and ask ourselves an honest question:
Who will start at quarterback for the Ravens in Atlanta next week?
Notice the wording here: I don’t care who you ‘want’ to start. We’ve already established that both sides of this argument are so far skewed to the extremes, that there’s no possible way convincing them that other side of this equation is the correct answer. This is asking who ‘will’ start, and that question revolves around one man, and one man only: John Harbaugh.
On one hand, Harbs has a Lamar Jackson “hot hand” offense that has amassed 509 rushing yards in two weeks, with the team going 2-0… but the passing game struggles to be consistent right now, and if teams force the Ravens offense to become one-dimensional and dare Lamar to throw, it could spell trouble.
On the other hand, you have a veteran leader in Joe, who has proven that he can lead a passing attack, win on the road, and command the offense… but the offense overall shows inconsistent play week-to-week, and Flacco still makes rookie mistakes in his reads and passes despite being a 12-year starter in the NFL.
Neither is a slam-dunk answer for the Ravens (thus the disparity in the fanbase) and while it may be a tough decision for John Harbaugh on the surface, ultimately? I think Joe Flacco is the no-brainer start for the hot seated head coach.
I’m going with a parent analogy here because it makes too much sense: imagine having two kids, ages 16 and 26. The 16-year-old has a learner’s permit, while the 26-year-old has been driving for a decade now. One has to jump on the highway and drive you home. Are you handing the keys to your shiny, new car to the 16-year-old who is just learning to drive? Or the 26-year-old that’s driven you home 100 times in the past decade?
Add in the “your job is on the line” mentality, and I simply don’t see Harbaugh sticking with Lamar next week, and to take it a step further, even if the Ravens lose on Sunday in Atlanta, I don’t see Lamar starting under center again until the Ravens are officially eliminated from playoff contention, thus confirming a regime change, and possibly a rebuild on the horizon that doesn’t include Flacco or Harbaugh.
It’s that simple, folks. No debate on the run game effectiveness under LJ vs. Joe, or the pass game effectiveness for both, or the opposing defense’s strengths and weaknesses, and so on. It’s as simple as John Harbaugh betting on the QB that got him here, not the rookie with a 2-0 career record that shows he still has to develop his game.
Quite frankly? I don’t blame him, and I’d do the exact same thing if I were in his shoes. Harbaugh is either coaching for his job here in Baltimore, but more likely, he’s coaching for his next stop on the coaching carousel, and going out with a winning record is paramount in helping him land a top gig at his next stop.
Harbs doesn’t care about LJ’s development or future in Baltimore if he’s not in the Ravens plans (the likely scenario), so why succumb to fan-clamoring and more pitchforks if it means going against your gut – and veteran leader – while potentially sacrificing your own future in the process?
Flacco, it is.
While some fans may not be keen on the decision to start Flacco when “Lamar just won 2 games” (QB Wins – Not a real stat)? There’s definitely silver lining in this decision for you as well!
For instance, if you want Lamar starting because “Flacco is a bum” I’d bet you hate Harbaugh too, right? Given your assumption that Flacco will lose some games, thus knocking the Ravens out of the playoff hunt, starting Joe ensures both he and Harbs are gone, whereas if you believe LJ wins these games and takes the team to the playoffs? Well, then you’re stuck with Harbaugh and Marty for at least another year!
That’s a W in my book!
Here’s another for you: with Flacco starting, he’ll continue to pad his stats, and eventually you’d expect them to be eliminated from playoff contention, right? Well now you have a higher trade value in Flacco, versus benching him for the rest of the year and squashing any hopes of a decent pick in exchange for Joe this offseason!
Wow blog guy, you’re right! That is a silver lining!
All I ask of Ravens fans collectively, regardless of whether you’re Team LJ or Team Flacco? Support the team and don’t rail on them because of the man under center. Both are going to make great plays, and both will make some boneheaded decisions. Neither will be perfect, neither is going 5-0 to finish out the year, and neither is taking this iteration of the Ravens to the Super Bowl without some extreme dumb luck, and maybe some voodoo.
In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the ride…