If the reports of John Harbaugh’s departure from Baltimore at season’s end are true, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t want to go out having exhausted every avenue.
The emotional pull most coaches have to a quarterback who won them a Super Bowl is understandable.
Lamar Jackson has, to this point, been a thorn in Flacco’s side. Conventional wisdom suggested he would need a year or two of seasoning before making a professional debut with any sort of success. Add in the fact that Flacco looked objectively good this preseason, finally free of a nagging back injury, and Harbaugh’s long-game succession plan seemed to have some merit.
But the league has changed. Flacco, who has a hip injury, has changed. The team’s record is 4–5, bordering on irrelevance in a more competitive AFC North.
At this point, what was—or is—stopping Harbaugh, Marty Mornhinweg and Greg Roman from hunkering down during the bye and installing something that would maximize all of Jackson’s myriad talents?
Given the Ravens recent track record it is difficult to imagine that this squad is capable of contending for Super Bowl LII. The 2018 version does not have the pedigree of the 2012 team that went on a miraculous championship run.
Therefore, the quarterback debate should be focused around a central question: Are the Ravens better positioned for the future by protecting Lamar Jackson from the pressure of starting until next season, or would it be advantageous to allow him to gain starting experience down the stretch this season? No matter the decision, the answer to this question will not be known until at least 2019.
‘We know the scheme’: Baltimore Ravens don’t sweat Bengals defensive coordinator change - Aaron Kasinitz
The Baltimore Ravens will watch tape of Teryl Austin’s defense to prepare for Sunday’s crucial game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but they won’t spot the veteran defensive coordinator on the opposite sideline at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Bengals fired Austin on Monday after they allowed more than 500 total yards in three straight games.
“Their defense is in place,” Harbaugh said. “They have the players that they have. We know the players, we know the scheme. We wouldn’t expect any dramatic changes in the scheme. Coach Lewis is a defensive coach, so he’s always had his imprints on the defense.”
“Marvin Lewis is going to take over, so it’ll be some of his blend,” Ravens right guard Marshal Yanda said. “The coaches are going to do a good job preparing us. Both ways, both scenarios, I’m sure we’re going to try to cover all bases that we can and be best prepared. Whatever he brings, we just have to be ready for.”
Cincinnati’s pass defense is an area the Ravens will aim to exploit. The Bengals rank dead last in passing yards allowed with an average of 313 per game. Their 21 passing scores allowed is third worst in the NFL and they have averaged less than two sacks per game since dropping Joe Flacco four times in Week 2.
It’s the Offense’s Chance to Get on a Roll - John Eisenberg
The Ravens’ remaining schedule is lined with opponents that possess potent offenses, and with all due respect to Ravens Defensive Coordinator Don (Wink) Martindale and his crew, we’ve seen what happens when a top defense faces a top offense in the NFL of 2018. The Ravens’ unit can be expected to compete hard and make its share of stops, as it did against the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers. But it eventually gave up 24 and 23 points in those games and the Ravens lost both.
The lesson? Today’s top offenses are just too talented and effective to be completely shut down, so your offense had better be able to keep pace -- generate enough points to match the opposing offense.
For the Ravens, Sunday’s game is the start of a run of contests against teams with struggling defenses. Incredibly, they’re due to face the bottom six teams in this week’s total defense rankings as they head down the stretch of the 2018 season. The Los Angeles Chargers, at No. 14, are Baltimore’s only remaining opponent with a decent defense statistically.
By some measurements Baltimore’s pass offense faces the easiest remaining strength of schedule. However, these metrics are game script dependent. The Ravens abysmal record in close games does not lend much confidence that they can win shootouts.