January Joe Moves On

Lombardi's Way January Joe Moves On

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To The Dismay of Many Ravens Fans

 

If you dare to watch, news programming, whether it’s local or national, is laced with bad news. From homicides to illnesses or weather-related accidents to government shutdowns, news slants to the negative. Sports oftentimes, tracks a similar path.

Why is it that a murder spree captures our attention more than a random act of kindness? Why does Kareem Hunt’s explosive violence attract more interest than The [Brandon] Carr Cares Foundation, which was founded to inspire young students to become proficient readers?

What does it say about us, individually and collectively, that we’re more dialed into negativity than positivity? I was reminded of this yesterday while reading and listening to reactions to the Joe Flacco trade to Denver.

And if you think I’m wrong, then explain why TV news or program directors allow gloomy developments to be positioned as lead stories on bright stages, presented by pretty people with a gleam in their eye. The fact is, bad news sells. For some reason, we pay more attention to the failures and tragedies of others than the success stories and accomplishments. If we weren’t buying the bad, program directors, whose jobs are directly tied to ratings, wouldn’t sell it. They’d take a different approach to win the battle for ratings.

Our collective response to the Ravens handling of their quarterback situation is a perfect example.

When Lamar Jackson took over for Flacco following the Ravens Week 10 bye and then won 6 of 7 games as a starter, supporters of the Ravens rookie QB directed criticisms towards Flacco, and we focused on those. When Jackson struggled in his NFL Postseason debut against the Chargers, those who backed Joe chimed in with dark forecasts for Jackson’s future, and that became a common narrative.

Today, many of Joe’s supporters are so upset about the trade that they vow to back the 11-year vet’s career as a Bronco more than their hometown team because somehow, the Ravens screwed the Super Bowl 47 MVP.

How about we just thank Joe for all he did, wish him the best during his Mile High adventures, and then get behind Lamar going forward? Isn’t it about the team?

Joe had a great run in Charm City. He was paid handsomely. One day he’ll be in the Ravens Ring of Honor. Isn’t that all something to celebrate? Something to proudly look back upon?

[Related Article: The Ravens Best Quarterback]

Joe Flacco has been traded to the Denver Broncos for a 4th-round pick according to sources. What best describes your feelings?
Ravens freed up $10.5M in cap space and got a decent return for Joe. Good deal!
The Ravens should have held out for more in exchange for Joe.
The Ravens will soon regret this trade. Lamar Jackson is not a franchise QB.
I hope Joe tears it up in Denver and wins another Super Bowl.
View Result

Looking Ahead

The contrasting styles of Flacco and Jackson are obvious. Flacco has a laser for an arm and possesses limited mobility and pocket escapability, while Jackson struggles with some throws but is as slippery as an eel when pursued by oncoming rushers. Some prefer the prototypical drop back passer while others lean towards a playmaker who can be electrifying. In the end, style isn’t as important as substance and substance is spelled W-I-N-N-I-N-G.

That’s the end game!

Speaking of end games, I’ve seen it written, I’ve heard it said, that Jackson’s poor performance in the Wild Card matchup against the LA Chargers is an indication of things to come – that it was the worst performance by a quarterback in Ravens playoff history. If that sounds like you, you’re wrong.

Recency bias can really sway opinions. Lamar’s struggles in the postseason aren’t really all that different than Joe’s struggles during the playoffs early in his career. But recency bias blinds some fans. Joe’s triumphant run through the 2012 playoffs makes fans forget about his 46.5 postseason passer rating during his first two seasons. Obviously, those inept performances weren’t indicative of what was to come, right? So, why can’t the same happen for Lamar as he journeys through the NFL maturation process?

Yet the disparity from opposing sides in the Lamar v. Joe debate are chasmal. It’s like an abyss on par with the gaping divide that separates political views these days, both being devoid of reasonability.

Looking Back

But let’s put things in perspective. Here’s a snapshot of the rookie seasons for Flacco and Jackson.

Clearly Jackson needs to protect the football better. Ten fumbles in 7 regular season starts is unacceptable and there has to be a least a lingering concern within The Castle that this is just who Lamar is given his 25 fumbles in 38 games at Louisville.

And to the notion that Lamar’s was the worst performance in Ravens playoff history – it wasn’t. His passer rating v. Chargers was a 78.8 and that dwarfs Joe’s worst playoff outing ever (also a team worst) v. the Patriots on January 10, 2010 when he posted a rating of 10.0. In fact, Joe had 4 other postseason games that were worse than Jackson’s (59.1, 18.2, 48.4, 61.1) during his first three seasons.

He wasn’t always January Joe.

Fiscal Responsibility

During his inaugural presser as the Ravens GM, Eric DeCosta stressed fiscal responsibility, regularly trumpeting the importance of “working under the structure of the salary cap.”

DeCosta enjoys a very close working relationship with team capologist Pat Moriarty and what you will see moving forward, is a team with a better handle on their cap – one that won’t hamstring them when seeking free agent talent that can augment the roster, provide deeper depth and free them to get back to drafting the best player available.

In the past, Ozzie Newsome approached free agency in a way that would allow the team to select the highest rated player on their draft board come draft weekend. In other words, fill needs through free agency so that “need” doesn’t overtly influence the war room thinking during the draft. That didn’t happen in 2018. A strong desire to improve the offense influenced the team to ignore the best player on the board – Derwin James.

You know the rest of the story…

Look for DeCosta to be more calculating with cap management. He’ll be more proactive with contract extensions for young players the Ravens hope to keep long-term. In doing so, it will preserve future cap space which could be used for an occasional splash signing, similar to the Eagles with Alshon Jeffery.

But don’t look for Le’Veon Bell to be that splash signing.

Would Bell look good standing beside Lamar Jackson in the Ravens offensive backfield? Of course he would. But three years from now, when the wear and tear grips Bell’s beaten body, his future productivity is likely to fall well short of his pay grade and that is the exact kind of contract the Ravens need to avoid.

And they will. All of the silly talk about Bell becoming a Raven is just that…silly.

But I can’t deny that I find comfort in the “As The ‘Burgh Turns” soap opera.

Remember when Bell, Brown and Ben Roethlisberger were referred to as the Killer B’s? They’re collectively looking like bumble bees now.

Hey, maybe the Steelers will soon be championing Jujubes (as in Smith-Schuster)…

On This Day in Music History

1967, The Beatles released the double A sided single ‘Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane’ on Capitol Records in the US. The single spent 10 weeks on the chart peaking at No.1.

1970, The Who appeared at Leeds University, England. The show was recorded for the bands forthcoming ‘Live At Leeds’ album. Since its initial reception, Live at Leeds has been cited by several music critics as the best live rock recording of all time. The University of Leeds refectory, has now been named a national landmark in the UK, commemorated with a blue plaque.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Love doesn’t make the world go ‘round, but it sure does make the ride worthwhile! Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone!

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is the founder EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com. His work has been featured on various sports websites and he hosts The Russell Street Report and Armchair Quarterback both seen and heard on Fanimal Radio. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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