The Baltimore Ravens have lost 3 in a row, are sitting at 4-5, haven’t made the playoffs since 2014, and have a Heisman-winning quarterback sitting on the bench. The Breakout Live team debates whether it’s time for the Ravens to move on from Joe Flacco and hand the reins to Lamar Jackson now.
George “Cannonball” West
It would seem logical as the sun sets on the Ravens’ 2018 season (3 straight losses and a 4-5 record through 9 games), that it would be time for Baltimore to see what they have in their 1st round pick, QB Lamar Jackson. Jackson has played, but the Ravens game plan for Lamar has been elementary at best. Jackson usually runs a QB draw out of the shotgun (139 yards on 28 carries, 4.9/carry), while starting veteran QB Joe Flacco simply flanks out to a WR position and basically just stands there. It doesn’t take a defensive genius to deduce that if Jackson is in the game, he is going to run the ball in what is basically a 10-man set, since the defense doesn’t even have to account for Flacco. Instead of energizing the Ravens scoring, this set stagnates it. And Jackson’s complete skill set can hardly be examined with this small sample.
So, put in Jackson with the full offensive game plan at his disposal and see what he’s got, right? Not so fast, because while this seems to be the simple solution, money complicates it. And doesn’t money always do that? According to Spotrac.com, Joe Flacco has this year and next year on the books with his current contract in Baltimore, and quite a couple of years those are. For 2019, Joe Flacco is set to earn a salary of $18,500,000 with a signing bonus payment of $8,000,000, a cap hit of $26,500,000, and a dead cap figure of $16,000,000. Hey, Joe earned that dough. See his 2013 Super Bowl ring and Super Bowl MVP award.
With those eye-popping numbers on the ledger, the Ravens are in essence forced to keep Flacco. And if it’s going to cost that kind of cabbage, Baltimore is going to have to make a Joe Salad, and perhaps dress it with some Jackson, and wait until 2020 to get a full course of Lamar.
Senior News & Fantasy Editor
It’s been time. I’ve been waiting for Flacco to get Tyrod Taylor’d and Sam Bradfor’d. Joe Flacco has resented the Ravens drafting Lamar Jackson with their 1st rounder last spring. Ravens fans probably resent Flacco for stealing money all those years and hindering their team, and specifically their offense.
Few teams are able to resist the temptation to roll out a new toy. Winning teams like Green Bay and Kansas City were able to do it because Alex Smith played lights out and Green Bay had Hall of Famer Favre in front of Rodgers.
Not only is Flacco not a Hall of Famer, he’s barely a serviceable NFL quarterback. The Ravens have lost 3 straight and have been carried by their defense to a 4-5 record. Lamar Jackson’s insertion would lift the entire city much in the same way Mayfield did in Cleveland. Results might not come right away, but they’re never coming again under Flacco.
Call it the Flacco effect. It’s been a steady narrative for about 3 years now where it seems obvious that it’s time for the Ravens to move on, then Flacco comes up with a big game and sets the clock back. But Baltimore is as close to midnight now as they’ve ever been.
I love Lamar Jackson, and I can’t wait to see him get his chance to run wild on the NFL. It won’t be this year, though. Despite what John Harbaugh says, he is coaching for his job in 2018 and if he goes down, he’ll do so with a QB who once won him a Super Bowl, not an unproven rookie.
Jackson is a legit NFL talent. He’s got elite wheels and his arm is absolutely NFL-caliber. He needs to improve his decision making to cut down on turnovers, and I think he’ll benefit greatly by having a chance to sit and learn this year. And by all accounts, he’s worked his tail off to become great. I think when it’s all said and done, Jackson could be the best QB to come out of last year’s draft. But situation being what it is right now in Baltimore, we’ll have to wait to watch #8 tear up defenses until at least 2019.
I took the cautious, prudent approach with Jameis Winston, so I’m certainly going to do the same with Flacco, whose accomplishments far outweigh Winston’s. Flacco is a Super Bowl champion with many clutch playoff performances, and he’s still relatively young at 33. He’s had a mediocre year, but far from awful. And I still believe with that Ravens defense, he can get them to the playoffs.
But I don’t believe you give up on a veteran like Flacco in the middle of the season, unless it’s a complete train wreck – and it’s not. As I said with Winston, if you’re going to bench your franchise quarterback, you better be 100% ready to move on. And I don’t think the Ravens are there yet.
I think the prudent approach is to let Flacco finish out there year and then make the decision in the offseason. I realize their situation is different from the Bucs in that they have a Heisman-winning rookie sitting on the bench, versus a journeyman backup for Tampa. But he’s still a rookie, and Flacco has earned the right to see this through and not be yanked in the middle of a season that’s not yet lost.