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Ravens News 12/18: Battling the schedule, Flacco trade rumors and more

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NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

What the Bucs Said After Loss to the Ravens - Ryan Mink

DT Gerald McCoy

(on QB Lamar Jackson’s play): “He’s the reincarnation of Michael Vick. He’s a lot faster than you think on the field. When you see him in person, he can really run. He controls the offense well. They put him in great positions – he’s going to be good for a long time.”

LB Lavonte David

(on the Ravens’ halftime adjustments): “They did some stuff that we didn’t see on film. It just got us out of our rhythm. You have to give them credit. They are a great football team. We just have to make adjustments and execute.”

RB Peyton Barber

(on having to watch as the Ravens held the ball so long): “It’s definitely tough when you’re going up against three running backs like they have – it’s hard. When we were put in good position, we didn’t get the points we needed. When we were on the field, we needed to convert more when we get into the red zone.”

Baltimore had a 14 minute advantage in time-of-possession despite losing the turnover battle. A 59-percent conversion rate on third and fourth down for the home team compared to 27-percent for the Buccaneers created much of the disparity.

A Wild Ride Through the Playoff Picture—and the Browns Are Still In it! - Albert Breer

LAMAR JACKSON IS PLAYING IT COOL IN THE RAVENS’ PLAYOFF RUN

“I don’t really look at it like that,” Jackson said, when I asked him if there was pressure to prove Harbaugh’s decision right. “I just look at it like, ‘Man, you gotta go out here Sunday and play football.’ I don’t really worry about what’s going on with coach’s decision. My job is to help my team win, so that’s what I’m gonna do.”

It’s what he has done, in a very different way than Flacco did, which is the fruition of a plan hatched by Harbaugh and assistants Marty Mornhinweg, Greg Roman and James Urban in the offseason, to design an offense that could morph based on the quarterback. They presented the plan to the personnel staff at draft meetings. That gave GM Ozzie Newsome and his heir next season, Eric DeCosta, peace of mind in positioning the team to get the former Heisman winner.

“I feel good,” Jackson said. “Some of those carries were kneeldowns, three of those were kneeldowns [on Sunday]. So it’s 15, and some of those I ran out of bounds, so all good. We just take advantage of what the defense gives us. We watch a lot of film, we see what they’re going to do to us. We run our schemes. Our linemen do a great job at blocking. Running backs do a great job at hitting the holes. It’s working, and you know, you can’t mess with something that’s working. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

A sloppy start had Lamar Jackson visibly frustrated. Yet the rookie quarterback showed impressive moxie with clutch plays before halftime and throughout the second half.

Ravens battling schedule as much as Philip Rivers and Chargers - Jamison Hensley

The Ravens (8-6) must travel cross-country to play one of the hottest teams in the NFL on one fewer day of rest. The Chargers (11-3) are working on three extra days of rest, having played on Thursday.

This is the second time this month that Baltimore has had to go against a more rested team. On Dec. 2, the Ravens played at the Atlanta Falcons, who were coming off a Thanksgiving night game. Baltimore was still able to beat Atlanta 26-16.

”It is what it is. For us, it’s get ready for the next game,” wide receiver Willie Snead said. “It’s a huge game for us.”

The schedule appeared challenging when it was released in April and has certainly lived up to that speculation. If the Ravens reach the postseason, they will have earned their spot. If they do not, the young contributors will benefit from the experience of playing during pressure packed games.

Joe Flacco trade rumors: Ravens will send QB to ‘team of choice,’ here are five teams that might work - Will Brinson

However, Baltimore clearly would prefer to trade Flacco. That would give the Ravens salary cap relief for the rest of Flacco’s deal and allow them to get something in return for the quarterback.

On the other hand, the Ravens might prefer cutting Flacco and designating him a post-June 1 cut, so they can spread the cap hit across multiple years.

But the team also wants to, according to a report from Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, “treat Joe Flacco with class” and would consider helping him land in a spot that he prefers.

Good luck finding many more teams who fit for Flacco, assuming he wants to be a starter. The Ravens cutting him seems like a far more likely scenario.

If traded, Joe Flacco would cost his new team $18.5 million in 2019, $20.3 million in 2020 and $24.3 million in 2021. All dead money will stay on the Ravens books, meaning another team could later release him without further financial penalty.

However, these base salary numbers would still keep Flacco among the 20 highest paid quarterbacks. And it is unclear if any teams would consider the soon-to-be 34-year-old as an upgrade for their quarterback situation.