It sounds as if the Baltimore Ravens are going to get a very motivated Joe Flacco for the 2018 season.
According to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, there is a belief that the Ravens’ decision to draft quarterback Lamar Jackson has made Flacco more motivated this offseason, and that notion is backed by safety Eric Weddle.
“Drafting Lamar and bringing [Robert] Griffin in, it’s lit a fire under him,” Weddle said. “You can tell. It has shown.”
Just how much this will help is an open question. The prevailing belief is that the Ravens were sending a message to Flacco by trading up into the first round to select Jackson, and that that message has been received. Will it lead to a more efficient and successful Flacco on the field? Only time will tell. Given the belief that the Ravens will cut him after the season if he and the offense don’t show significant improvement, his career in Baltimore may hinge on it.
The overwhelming belief after the Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson in the first round is that Joe Flacco has just one season remaining in Baltimore, but the veteran quarterback may put up a fight before the team ushers in a new era.
In his latest column for The MMQB, Peter King reports that Flacco understands the Ravens are likely planning to move on from him in 2019, if not sooner. How the 33-year-old responds to the situation will be worth monitoring.
Joe Flacco’s gotten the message. That’s what I hear. And he’s too smart not to have gotten it. Flacco, 33, understands the trade-up pick of Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson means the Ravens have noticed his sub-.500 record and 82.4 passer rating in the past three years, regardless how much is his fault. The quarterback always takes major blame when an offense is lousy, and Baltimore’s has been bad—29th, 12th and 29th in passing yards in the past three seasons.
What’s more, the Ravens are a boring offense. They excite no one. They’re inefficient—and you can’t blame only Flacco, because the receiving group has been consistently disappointing too. When I saw this pick, I said I bet this is about more than dissatisfaction with Flacco. It’s about making the team exciting again in a market that has grown blasé, and throwing some change-ups with an electric quarterback. Flacco will get the first shot, and he may well play well enough to beat back Jackson. We’ll see.
The Ravens have made it clear that they still consider Flacco their starting QB, but they can save $18.5 million in salary cap space if they cut him next offseason. If his performance in 2018 is on par with the 83.1, 83.5 and 80.4 passer ratings he has posted the past three years, releasing him will be a no-brainer. In order for Flacco to prove he is worthy of being kept around, he might have to have something close to a Pro Bowl season.
Even if Baltimore has committed to Flacco as its starter, it sounds as if Jackson will have some role in the team’s offense immediately. Should the Ravens look better when Jackson is on the field, it would not be a surprise if he took Flacco’s job sooner rather than later.
The Baltimore Ravens have stated publicly that Joe Flacco remains their starting quarterback for 2018, but it sounds like first-round draft pick Lamar Jackson will be involved in the team’s offense in some capacity.
In an appearance on the “Tiki and Tierney” show Tuesday, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports stated emphatically that the Ravens are planning to design offensive packages for Jackson and have him on the field in Week 1.
“Lamar Jackson is going to be on the field Week 1,” La Canfora said. “Maybe it’s three plays, maybe it’s eight plays. He’s going to be on the field Week 5, and maybe it’s 10 plays and maybe it’s 15 plays, depending on how the offense goes. I don’t think they’re going to throw him into the deep end too soon, but they will create packages for him immediately.”
La Canfora praised Jackson for being an “athletic freak” and said he is the most athletic player on Baltimore’s roster. The Ravens can save $18.5 million in salary cap space if they cut Flacco next offseason, and La Canfora says the way fans lost interest in the team in 2017 coupled with Baltimore drafting Jackson makes it a guarantee that Flacco will not be back next year.
“I live in this town, and you couldn’t give away a Ravens ticket. … Flacco wasn’t going to be back in 2019 — even if they waited to the fifth round to draft a quarterback we had never heard of, but this absolutely cements it,” La Canfora added.
Judging by what the Ravens said about Jackson leading up to the draft, you know they have high hopes for the former Louisville star. Flacco, 33, is not that old by today’s NFL quarterback standards, but he has been mediocre at best over the past several seasons. It makes sense that his days in Baltimore are numbered.
Lamar Jackson continues to be his own best hype man.
The new Baltimore Ravens quarterback, who was drafted No. 32 overall, told reporters on Friday that he ran a 4.34 40-yard dash … while nursing turf toe.
Lamar Jackson says he ran a 4.34 40. “With turf toe.”
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 27, 2018
Jackson, 21, did not participate in this year’s combine but was indeed clocked at 4.34 during Louisville’s annual spring testing in March. Ravens’ editorial manager Ryan Mink put into perspective just how fast that time would have been at the combine.
Lamar Jackson didn't run the 40-yard dash at the Combine, but said he's been timed at 4.34.
That would have been tied for the fourth-fastest time of any player at this year's Combine.
— Ryan Mink (@ryanmink) April 27, 2018
The former Heisman winner was drafted as a quarterback, but at least his blazing speed gives him some added positional versatility in the event that he has to make an eventual switch (as had been buzzed about before the draft).
Depending on who you ask, Lamar Jackson could go anywhere from the first 15 picks in the NFL Draft to somewhere in the middle rounds. As far as one team is concerned, the former Heisman Trophy winner shouldn’t be drafted at all.
There was a lot of talk leading up to the NFL Scouting Combine about Jackson potentially working out as a wide receiver, and at least one team feels changing positions is his only chance of playing at the NFL level. In discussing the Patriots’ reported interest in Jackson, Jeff Howe of The Athletic was told by sources that one team grades Jackson as a third-round prospect while another has him going undrafted.
There’s so much hype that it seems like a lock Jackson will be a first-round pick. But one team, which has leadership figures who hail from the Bill Belichick tree, has a third-round grade on Jackson. With a similar philosophy as the Patriots, would that team’s thinking be all that different from that of Belichick? That will ultimately be answered Thursday night.
Another team graded Jackson as an undrafted free agent. The team didn’t believe Jackson could play quarterback at an NFL level. Obviously, with all of this information in mind, it’s possible that team is right, or it’s possible that team misevaluated Jackson. Maybe that team’s philosophy is starkly different from the Patriots.
The Patriots currently have two first-round picks — No. 23 and No. 31. Jackson could conceivably fall to them at either of those spots, but Belichick almost never does what people expect him to do in the draft. Although, it is starting to sound like this year could be an exception.
Concerns about Jackson’s style of play make sense. He’s incredibly athletic and made a lot of plays with his legs at Louisville, and those types of QBs tend to take too many hits in the NFL. That doesn’t mean teams won’t be willing to take a chance on him, and the possibility of him going undrafted is nonexistent.
Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots are the kings of doing the unexpected during the NFL Draft, but it is starting to sound like they may have tipped their hand with one player they are targeting in the early rounds.
Jenny Vrentas of The MMQB reports that the Patriots met with Jackson twice during the pre-draft process — once for a private workout with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and another time for a meeting in Foxboro.
A few notes from Dallas:
+Lamar Jackson visited w/Patriots 2x: private workout in S.Fla w/McDaniels plus visit to Foxborough
+He marveled at seeing Belichick laugh
+Rosen has been told he looks like a cross btwn Eli & A. Rodgers (yes)
+All players happy to be drafted anywhere
— Jenny Vrentas (@JennyVrentas) April 25, 2018
While Belichick always likes keeping his intentions close to the vest, holding two meetings with a player you have no actual interest in seems like a complete waste of time. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Patriots are seriously considering drafting Jackson.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 25, 2018
Even if the Tom Brady is planning to play another three or four seasons, the Patriots need to find another quarterback-in-waiting now that they have traded Jimmy Garoppolo. While some coaches have expressed serious concern over the way Jackson’s game will transition to the next level, it seems like Belichick and others in New England see something in the former Louisville star.
Lamar Jackson is one of the biggest mystery prospects heading into the 2018 NFL Draft. There are no questions about the former Louisville star’s athletic ability, but some talent evaluators think he will struggle to play quarterback at the NFL level. One coach insists it is not going to happen.
Tom Pelissero of NFL Network spoke with several NFL executives and coaches who have studied Jackson, and one feels the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner has no shot of making it as a QB in the NFL.
“He’s an awesome athlete. He will not be able to play (quarterback) in this league, mark my words,” an anonymous offensive coordinator said. “When he throws, he hopes.”
Others are a bit higher on Jackson and believe he simply wasn’t challenged enough in Louisville’s offense.
“Lamar’s got good aptitude. He just wasn’t given that responsibility,” a second OC told Pelissero. “There’s a difference between a guy who can’t do it and a guy who never was asked to do it, but can learn. He can learn.”
“They had a progression-based offense. You can see it. But then, when you talk to him, he can’t verbalize it for you. If you’ve got him really honed in on a game plan, I think he’d be able to do whatever you need to do,” a quarterbacks coach who spent time with Jackson said. “He has experience with real route concepts and making reads. You see him make good decisions. He throws the ball fine. I think accuracy is more of an issue for Josh Allen than it is for Lamar. He’s a freak. He’s the best athlete on the field every game he plays.”
True passers tend to succeed more in the NFL, as QBs who rely just as much on running as they do throwing have a difficult time staying healthy. That is obviously a major concern with Jackson, but we have heard plenty of positive reports about the impression he is making on NFL teams.
If this year’s draft wasn’t considered so loaded at the QB position, Jackson would likely be a lock to go in the early part of the first round. As it stands now, he could really be picked anywhere. No one will be shocked if it’s within the first 15-20 selections.