It would appear that John Harbaugh’s penchant for sitting rookies is gradually disappearing. Perhaps a philosophy shift has come along here in the new era with Lamar Jackson and GM Eric DeCosta. It could even be a simple as the draft classes in recent years have been significantly better than they were in previous years.
I’m not sure of the reason, but I think it’s paying dividends.
How many times have we heard Harbaugh state “well he’s a rookie so he’s got a lot to learn” or something along those lines? Well sure that may be true, but letting rookies make some mistakes in actual games is, in my opinion, the best way to learn. How often did we see young players languish on special teams or disappear onto the inactive list due to a lack of contribution on said special teams?
Often a past-his-prime veteran has been given the job over a young player simply because of the lack of experience. How does a player gain experience in those scenarios? Those veteran players are also referred to as “progress stoppers” in the football world.
Let me make clear that I’m not criticizing Harbaugh or his methods because I understand completely why those decisions have been made. It just seems to me he’s all about taking the risk to get the reward these days.
Look no further than Marquise “Hollywood” Brown for starters…speaking of starting. Yes, the 5’9″ 180-lb rookie that missed the majority of training camp and took just enough snaps in the preseason to almost get his cleats dirty is the Ravens starting wide receiver and number target. If he wasn’t given that opportunity anyone would understand but instead, Harbaugh opted to throw him into the fire headfirst. All Ravens fans are sure glad he did because Hollywood in just two games is already looking like the best Ravens receiver the team has ever drafted. From the early signs, he looks like he could end up as a top ten receiver in the league.
Miles Boykin is also a starter on offense with a touchdown in his first game and Justice Hill is getting significant snaps. Second-year players are prominent role players and starters as they were last year during their rookie year. Mark Andrews is proving to be a dominant offensive weapon after a very promising rookie year. Lamar Jackson is the talk of the national media in his first year as a starter setting franchise in both of his first two games. Players such as Gus Edwards, Hayden Hurst, Orlando Brown, Anthony Averett, Kenny Young, Chris Board, and Bradley Bozeman are all also either starters or major contributors.
Ravens fans have grown accustomed to players breaking out in the final year of their rookie contract only to see them get another big contract on another team. Seeing players break out in year one or two is a very welcome change.
Whether it’s a credit to Eric DeCosta, John Harbaugh or Ozzie Newsome the organization deserves praise because the future is looking very bright for the Ravens.