The Baltimore Ravens are facing their first quarterback controversy in over a decade. Here’s why Joe Flacco still gives them their best shot at a Super Bowl.
The Baltimore Ravens have won three straight games with rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson at the helm. For some Ravens fans, that’s enough to officially move on from the Joe Flacco era.
Here’s why those people are wrong.
This is not an anti-Lamar post. Jackson has been terrific in the three-game win streak and there’s no longer any doubt that he is the future franchise quarterback. That being said, there are important areas of his game that still need development.
Jackson is electric. He has a balance of “fast” and “quick” that is almost unmatched by any player in the league, let alone quarterbacks. On any given day, he gives the Ravens a chance to win games. His passing is what needs work, though. It will come with time and practice, but it just isn’t there yet. To win key games in December and in the playoffs, missing open passes just won’t work.
What the Ravens (should) have learned during Lamar’s stint as QB is that the run game is extremely important to their success. Gus Edwards is running on such a downhill slope it’s amazing his legs can keep up.
After going undrafted and watching from the sidelines for the first half of the season, “Gus Bus” has run for 115, 118 and 82 yards in the past three games respectively. The only reason he wasn’t over 100 yards against the Falcons last week is because the Ravens returned Kenneth Dixon from injury for 37 yards and rushed for another 75 with Jackson.
Run the ball, open up the passing game for Flacco, bomb touchdowns to Smokey Brown and Michael Crabtree, run some more. Now that the run game is proven, Flacco’s arm will only open it up for more success. Baltimore also has the luxury of actually using Jackson in situational football now, not just putting him out there for the sake of putting him out there like they seemed to be doing earlier this year.
With the Chiefs, Buccaneers, Chargers and Browns left on the schedule, Baltimore is going to have to air it out to win games. Deep throws shouldn’t take precedent over an effective run/pass balance but they will need Flacco’s arm to win, specifically against a Chiefs defense that ranks second-worst in the NFL, allowing 417 passing yards per game (the Browns and Bucs are also in the bottom six).
Flacco has had five offensive coordinators since 2012. Marty Mornhinweg isn’t perfect, but he’s worked with Joe for three years now and before the Week 10 injury, Flacco was on pace for one of his best statistical seasons. The Ravens are only a half-game back from Pittsburgh. They have a legitimate shot at stealing the division, with the Steelers having to play both the Saints and Patriots.
The Ravens current receivers are far from the best in the league but they’re a massive improvement over the dark years (2015-17). Brown is the best deep threat Flacco has had in years, Crabtree is as good as anyone when he holds on to the ball and both Chris Moore and Willie Snead are solid third options. Flacco has proven he can get the ball to all of these guys effectively.
It’s worth noting that the Ravens aren’t in the playoff picture without their defense. The Ravens D is the best in the NFL, ranking first in total yards allowed per game (281.7), first in points allowed (17.8) and their second half stats are other-worldly. Until their week 7 match up with the Saints, they hadn’t allowed a single second half touchdown.
As for the quarterbacks, the Ravens want to win now and Flacco gives them their best shot. It’s also worth noting that he can go into Foxborough and win games. Under Flacco, the Ravens/Patriots postseason rivalry is 2-2 with one of those losses being the Lee Evans/Billy Cundiff game.
Ravens fans are going to enjoy many great playoff runs with Lamar Jackson leading the squad. But not yet. It’s still Flacco’s time in Baltimore.