In Saturday’s thrilling preseason win over the Indianapolis Colts, one of the biggest stars was Baltimore Ravens backup quarterback Josh Johnson. Johnson went 11/16 for 72 yards and one touchdown through the air, and added 40 yards on the ground, both leading the team. Johnson carried the team down the field in a perfectly executed two minute drill at the end of the first half, capped with a perfect throw to wide receiver Jeremy Butler in the end zone.
After the game, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said that Johnson was in competition with fellow backup quarterback Ryan Mallett for a roster spot. Mallett has seemed like a sure bet to make the roster as Joe Flacco’s back up, and it would be very unlikely that the Ravens take more than one backup at that position. So with Johnson’s stellar performance last night, does he have a shot to make the roster?
Johnson has bounced around a lot in the NFL. The Ravens are Johnson’s 10th NFL team, and he has only lasted more than one year with a team once. The 2008 fifth round pick has thrown for only 1,042 yards in his entire career. Based off of precedent, he has not been able to stick and succeed anywhere in the NFL, and it would seem unlikely for that trend to change in Baltimore.
While Johnson got all the headlines last night, Mallett has played exceptionally well each outing this preseason. He was 11/15 for 91 yards with a touchdown pass against the Panthers, and 6/8 for 47 yards and a touchdown against the Colts.
For Johnson to overtake Mallett, he would need to consistently out play him, and Mallett would have to give the team a reason to not want him. Mallett has already proved his worth to the team with a great performance against the Steelers last season. Yes, Johnson does provide a running ability that Flacco and Mallett do not, but that alone will not set Johnson above Mallett. This could obviously change drastically before the season.
Mallett could falter, and Johnson could keep building momentum, but if not for that scenario, Johnson will likely be on the outside looking in of the 53 man roster. And at the end of the day, the quarterback who will (knock on wood) start all 16 games, is Joe Flacco, not Ryan Mallett and not Josh Johnson.