When you draft a quarterback in the first round like the Ravens did with Lamar Jackson, it does not take long for a quarterback controversy to emerge. While Jackson has been getting rave reviews from Baltimore’s training camp, it would be surprising if Joe Flacco is not the starting quarterback when the season begins.
The Ravens essentially passed on Jackson twice in the 2018 draft. Baltimore originally had the No. 16 pick and traded down with the Bills where they selected tight end Hayden Hurst. The Ravens later traded back into the first round with the Eagles to select Jackson. This is not to say the Ravens did not like Jackson, but if the team did not have questions about the quarterback, they would have likely selected him at No. 16.
NBC Sports’ Peter King reported that Flacco has looked the best he has in his career during training camp. Ravens coach John Harbaugh told King he tried to assure Flacco of the team’s confidence in him after the Ravens drafted Jackson.
“I called Joe the night we drafted him,” Harbaugh told NBC Sports. “My message was, ‘You’re the quarterback.’ But he’s realistic too. This adds another dimension to us. We have ideas. People are seeing it out here. Sometimes Lamar will be the quarterback. Sometimes we’ll have two quarterbacks. Sometimes Joe will be doing something else. Sometimes Lamar will be doing something else. We’ll try to be creative. That’s really about all I can tell you: We’re going to try to be creative with them.”
As for Jackson, the Ravens have been impressed noting he is “ahead of the curve.” Reports out of Ravens camp note the team is looking for creative ways to get Jackson on the field. ESPN reported that Jackson has been lining up at multiple positions during camp. ESPN’s Jamison Hensley reported Jackson is expected to be active during the season, and not just play a traditional backup role.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh expects quarterback Lamar Jackson to be active on game days. “Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us,” Harbaugh said. “If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That’s what we’re trying to figure out.” With Joe Flacco playing quarterback, Jackson has been lining up at multiple positions throughout offseason practices.
While the Ravens have tried to assure Flacco of their confidence in him as quarterback, the veteran understands there was an indirect message being sent with the Ravens using a high pick on Jackson.
“There’s definitely a certain feeling you have,” Flacco told NBC Sports. “I don’t know if it’s the worst feeling in the world, but it’s definitely means something. There’s definitely a little bit of a message in there. But this is the NFL, man. I’ve been in it for 10 years, seen pretty much everything. Surprised by this [the drafting of Jackson] a little bit. My approach is I’m gonna show these guys every day what kind of quarterback I am, and I can’t really worry about anything else.”
Fans can expect Flacco to retain the starting job heading into the season, but there will be pressure on Flacco to perform right away. If the Ravens struggle early in the season, there is going to be growing buzz for the Ravens to hand the keys to the offense to Jackson.