Drafting Lamar Jackson certainly got Joe Flacco’s attention. Time will tell whether or not it improves Flacco’s play in 2018 for the Ravens.
It’s natural for any veteran player to get nervous when his team spends a first round pick on a player at his position. That intensity is magnified when it’s a quarterback. That’s why Joe Flacco is already feeling intense pressure from Lamar Jackson in Baltimore.
Ravens safety Eric Weddle put it best when he said Flacco has “obviously been challenged” by the franchise’s decision to draft Jackson and sign Robert Griffin III as a free agent. There’s certainly nothing wrong with intense competition during preseason at any position.
It’s also quite possible the challenge could lead to a better 2018 season for Flacco. ESPN reporter Jamison Hensley points out that Flacco looks “leaner and trimmer” than he has in years past. It’s pretty easy to understand why Flacco would want to get a little quicker with guys like Jackson and Griffin joining him on the practice field every day.
There is a potential downside to challenging a veteran like Flacco though. Reports out of Ravens camp also allege that the veteran quarterback is acting much more “demonstrative” after making bad throws. That could easily turn into a significant negative. Baltimore’s coaching staff needs to work hard to make sure Flacco doesn’t put too much pressure on himself.
After all, Flacco simply can’t replicate some of the things the team’s other quarterbacks can do. He’s not going to beat Griffin or Jackson in a sprint. Instead, he needs to focus on the things he can do better than his competitors. Mainly that will involve throwing accurate, on time passes to his group of wide receivers.
Jackson is going to overtake Flacco to become the Ravens’ starting quarterback at some point in the near future. It’s highly unlikely Flacco can do anything to push that off for any longer than a season. He can’t let the pressure get to him though. If his mental game starts to suffer, Jackson may take over sooner than anyone would’ve projected.