As Ravens fans, we have generally made do with little talent behind iron-man Joe Flacco at quarterback, and it worked out just fine for the team until this year. The backup to Flacco has ranged from veterans like Marc Bulger and Matt Schaub, to Ravens late round draft picks, like Troy Smith (2 years) and Tyrod Taylor (4 years), who most Ravens fans had little confidence in at the time but is having success in Buffalo.
So why are Ravens fans so upset that the team signed a player in Ryan Mallett who many around the league think can be a successful starter in the NFL?
Mallett was drafted in the 3rd round by the Patriots. He was resigned by the Texans on a 2 year $7 million deal, with other teams rumored to have made a run at him. So teams clearly feel he has ability. So why was he sitting on the market? Some of that may have to do with his issues with Houston this season. Many are calling him a "locker room cancer," but I just call it immaturity. He was demoted or passed over for his dream job, a starting gig at quarterback in the NFL. He reacted badly, showing up late for meetings, practices and flights. The Ravens have given second chances to much scarier players- Will Hill III and Rolando McClain come to mind. Mallett's only legal trouble was a public intoxication arrest when he was at Arkansas, so he is not exactly on the same level.
So I don't put much stock in those issues. And what about ability? The Ravens gave him a 2 year deal, with a reported $1.5 salary and an additional $1 million in incentives for 2016. so they clearly like him as a backup for the next year or 2. Boasting one of the stronger arms in the NFL, Mallett is the first backup for the Ravens who profiles as similar to Joe as a big, strong armed QB. Malletts issues stem from accuracy problems. Mallett had a 65% completion rate his senior year at Arkansas, with 3869 yards, 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, but he has been unable to come near that as a Pro. His career completion rate as a pro is 53.1%.
The 27 year old will need to use his time in Baltimore to improve his accuracy, and rebuild his reputation. If he succeeds at that, he likely will be able to find himself a place to compete for a starting job in the NFL come 2017. Baltimore is the ideal place for him to accomplish those goals. The Ravens will probably not start him this week, given his lack of knowledge of the plays and schemes. But they likely will want to get a look at him as a starter, so I expect to see him on the field for the week 16 game against the Steelers, as they will likely want to get a look at him with starting quality players around and against him.
Mallett will have his chance to prove himself as a Raven, so I hope everyone can look past his immaturity and realize the potential he brings and enjoy his time in Baltimore.