How would a Lamar Jackson-led offense function?
Jackson has been an effective runner in two-quarterback sets with Flacco, averaging 5 yards per carry. As Harbaugh pointed out, the team’s overall rushing offense has been more dynamic with him in the game.
But we really have no idea if the Ravens could move the ball consistently with Jackson as their starter. He would remain a threat with his legs, of course, but he’s attempted just 12 NFL passes, most of them in mop-up duty. When he threw more regularly during the preseason, his accuracy wavered.
Now, Jackson doesn’t have to be Drew Brees. His potency as a runner should afford him more room for error as a passer. We simply have not seen enough to know what will happen if he’s asked to throw 25 or 30 times in a game.
Quarterbacks coach James Urban and third-stringer Robert Griffin III have worked with Jackson more closely than anyone, and they speak highly of his determination and development. Talk to the rookie for a few minutes, and you realize that for all his humility as a teammate, he brims with confidence.
The Ravens’ season will take on an air of mystery and renewed anticipation if Jackson does take over for an injured Flacco. But it could also turn into a painful trial-by-fire for a player who needs more time to polish his skills.
At the collegiate level, Lamar Jackson completed 57-percent of his attempts and finished with a 69:27 passing touchdown to interception ratio.
Whether Flacco will be able to play Sunday against the Bengals, however, remains to be seen.
“He’s getting treatment just like all the guys are getting treatment. We’ll see,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll know more as the weeks goes on. I’m hopeful all our guys play, including Joe.”
Asked whether rookie Lamar Jackson or Robert Griffin III would play if Flacco can’t suit up, Harbaugh said he’s not going to reveal that information. He said he’s not sure yet who will play, but expressed confidence that Jackson could start if needed.
“It will be based on the health of Joe,” Harbaugh said. “It’s up in the air. I’m not worried about it. We’re blessed with a good quarterback room. … We have three guys that can play.”
Harbaugh will probably not reveal the starting quarterback until pregame warmups on Sunday. Worth noting, Robert Griffin’s last regular season start occurred in Week 5 of the 2016 season.
John Harbaugh Encouraged by Offensive Line Health After Bye - Clifton Brown
Rookie right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. made his third consecutive start against the Steelers and may continue to start even after Hurst returns. Hurst can play both tackle and guard, making him valuable as a backup right tackle, and an option as the starting left guard, should Brown remain the starter.
Veteran right guard Marshal Yanda has been happy with Brown’s progress.
“He’s a physical dude, he brings a lot of energy and excitement to the game,” Yanda said. “He’s a young player that just needs to keep getting better. As a rookie, you have a lot of room to improve, every single game you should be getting better and better. I think he’s definitely taken that approach. I think the kid’s going to be get better each week.”
Orlando Brown has seemingly played well enough to lock down the right tackle job for the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, a healthy James Hurst would likely be an upgrade over Alex Lewis at left guard.
2018 NFL Midseason: Must-Watch Games of the Season’s Back Half - Jonathan Jones
WEEK 11: BENGALS AT RAVENS
The AFC North is far from decided, but the Ravens need this win to knot the season series with the Bengals after getting waxed in Cincinnati in Week 2. The Ravens will be coming off their bye losers of three straight. The future of both John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco will likely be decided in the second half of this season, and this game kicks that off for the 4-5 Ravens. If Flacco flounders as he has lately, how long until they give Lamar Jackson more of a legitimate look at quarterback? This game will be a tone setter for both teams, but especially Baltimore.
The Ravens maintain a 24-percent chance to make the playoffs, while the Bengals currently have a 34-percent chance of advancing to the postseason. This ELO model suggest the Ravens should be favored by five points in Week 11 and have a 67-percent win probability.