We Can Welcome LJ AND Appreciate Joe!

The Chicken Box We Can Welcome LJ AND Appreciate Joe!

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There are just three weeks left in the 2018 NFL regular season. Three heart-attack inducing weeks, which will decide whether the Ravens are headed for the postseason, or headed to the couch for the fourth consecutive year.

This article serves as my collection of thoughts about things around the league.. Or maybe just Baltimore. Who knows. I make these up as I go along, anyway.

Ladies and gentlemen.. The Chicken Box.

Lamar Jackson makes a pass in camp.

Baltimore Ravens/Phil Hoffman

The Lamar Jackson Era has begun.

As most of you know (unless you’ve been living under a rock), the rookie signal caller has been named the starter for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers – even though Joe Flacco is healthy.

What does this mean?

It means that John Harbaugh is fighting for his coaching job, and he thinks that Lamar Jackson being able to hide offensive deficiencies with his legs, is the best chance for him to keep said job. Either that, or the higher-ups have had enough of Harbs’ shit, and told him that this was happening. This is not to say that Flacco won’t see the field – in fact, they as much as said that they had a package for him, if necessary.

We all know, or should know, that I have long been unsold on the rookie, due to his inability to show consistency in his passing game, and that I believed the team would make the choice to go back to Joe Flacco when he was healthy. I do believe that LJ has shown improvement, and facing some of the worst defenses in the league is a good way for him to get his feet wet.

As such, I am not mad about the decision – just nervous about the outcome.

I am, however, perturbed about some of the fans, and how they’ve reacted to the news – mainly what they’ve said about the veteran quarterback.

It really is possible to find fault, but not hate, guys. I promise.

NFL Officiating needs to be revisited.

This has been a season-long thing. Missed calls. Blatant no-calls. The wrong call. Over, and over, and over. It’s affected every team that I can think of, up to and including the Ravens, especially against Kansas City (the no-call DPI that forced the Chris Moore no-TD comes to mind).

With all the emphasis put on rules, and player safety, and being a ‘better league,’ it is absolutely ridiculous that the officiating has been so bad this season. Players, coaches, and analysts are all commenting on it – something that doesn’t really happen, normally.

The NFL hired full-time refs this season, and it hasn’t improved anything. It destroys the quality of game, and changes the outcome more often than it ever should. They finally seem to have figured what constitutes a catch – now let’s see if they fix this. A game shouldn’t last four hours because the flag zebras can’t keep it in their pants.

IS THIS YOUR KI….CKER?!

The Pro Bowl is a merit of honor.

The Pro Bowl is a joke, and a popularity contest.

Both of these can be true.

But the fact that Josh Scob… wait. That’s not right. Chris Boswell. That’s the one. The fact that Chris Boswell is ahead of Justin Tucker, aka AutomaTuck, in Pro Bowl voting is an absolute travesty. The guy has an atrocious 62.5% FG conversion rate in 2018, and just 88.6% of his extra point attempts go through the uprights.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

We, as football fans, deserve better than this. The Steelers don’t deserve better than this, though. I hope they always get the Scobee’s and Nugents (ed note: and Jeff Reeds!) of the world.

Speaking of deserving better…

C.J. Mosley raises his arms at the referee.

Baltimore Ravens/Shawn Hubbard

Should they stay or should they go?

Look, there are quite a few players that you could make an argument to keep, and to cut. But, I’d like to focus on just three of them, since the season is drawing to a close, and these guys are either in contract years, or would release a decent amount of cap space.

CJ Mosley: Yes, I am aware that Mosley is good at run defense. His coverage ability leaves something to be desired, though. Many fans are willing to ignore his deficiencies (imagine that), and throw money at him so he doesn’t leave, when in reality, he shouldn’t be paid more than $8.5M AAV, in my opinion. Look at his play, then look at the other ‘top’ MLBs in the league – he isn’t close.

Jimmy Smith: Jimmy is another animal. Though he came back rusty after a four-game suspension, his play has gotten steadily better. However, he has a very large cap hit, and he can’t be trusted to stay on the field, be it health or suspension. His release would mean a big cap savings, and it’s not like the Ravens are short on skilled corners.

Joe Flacco: Joe is a combination of three things – declining play, a large cap hit, and a guy who needs a change of scenery at the end of his career. It is unlikely that he remains on the Ravens roster in 2019, but the likely scenario is that he gets traded. As my podcast co-host went over earlier this week, there are more than a few trade partners.

Letting go of all three of these Ravens stalwarts would not only open up a huge part of the cap, it would also give younger talent room to blossom while seeing increased playing time. It’s a no-lose situation… unless they fail to replace CJ, Lamar Jackson fails, and the 2014 injury bug hits the secondary again.

Ravens coaching staff

Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Harbs Dilemma.

Scenario 1: The Baltimore Ravens miss the playoffs, resulting in a regime change, which starts with Head Coach John Harbaugh getting fired.

This scenario is bittersweet, obviously. The Ravens miss the postseason for a fourth consecutive season, but Harbaugh, Marty, and some faulty assistants hit the road, opening spots for (hopefully) younger, more creative minds to help build this team into a future contender.

Scenario 2: The Ravens make the playoffs, win a game or two, which prompts Stevie Biscuits to keep Harbs around, citing the short time with Jackson as the reason.

Again, bittersweet. The Ravens taste the playoffs, but ultimately fail to reach the goal (Super Bowl ring). Harbs sticks around, as does Marty, and the up-and-down offensive mentality that we have all grown accustomed to continues.

Scenario 3: The Ravens make the playoffs, lose early. John Harbaugh is released, along with the aforementioned people.

This is the scenario that I would be completely okay with, as it gives us the best of both worlds, though it does come with a lower draft pick.

The reason I laid these out is because any of them are possible, and that is frightening. There is no scenario in which I want to see Harbs here in 2019. It’s been real, it’s been fun, but it hasn’t been real fun. I’m tired of the miscues, of the stagnant mentality, and of the ‘rah-rah’ slogans that he somehow thinks makes the team play better. Seriously. ‘Play Like a Raven’ falls on deaf ears when you’ve been the definition of mediocre for a few years.

That’s it for me, guys. Leave your thoughts and comments below, and let’s get this win on Sunday! Or not, if we’re shooting for scenario one, mentioned above.

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Michael Telford

About Michael Telford

I have been an avid Ravens fan since their inception, and have written about them for a little over 5 years. I live in the Midwest region nowadays, and keep up all year, with all things Ravens, as well as the rest of the NFL. You can follow me on Twitter (@ChibsRSR) or find me in my Facebook group (The Baltimore Elite). More from Michael Telford
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