The Ravens have traveled up to Cincinnati for what many consider to be their last game of the season. Almost every media pundit has, predictably, picked the Bengals to beat a Lamar Jackson-less Baltimore team. But the Ravens are determined to keep their season alive and could be pulling out all the stops, which includes a two-quarterback approach.
The #Ravens haven’t named a starting QB, but all signs point to them playing both Tyler Huntley and Anthony Brown at QB in their playoff game vs. the #Bengals, sources say.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 15, 2023
My story on Baltimore’s QB intrigue: https://t.co/BEbXJfpeic
While the dual quarterback system can still be seen in college, in the NFL the idea is mostly outdated and hasn’t been used often, especially for high-leverage situations such as this. There are some notable examples of it in the NFL’s history, though. Baltimore Colt’s Don Shula was known for using it in the ’80s when he was with Miami, alternating between Don Strock and David Woodley. It helped eventually lead Miami to a Super Bowl during the 1982 season, though they lost. The Ravens even deployed it a little in 2018, Lamar’s rookie year, throwing Lamar in for certain play while Joe Flacco was starting the first half of the year. It’s how Lamar scored his first NFL touchdown.
This strategy could certainly help keep the Bengals off balance. Each of the backups, Huntley and Brown, have their own certain strengths. For one, Huntley has more starting experience, is a more dynamic runner and the Bengals haven’t seen him yet in his career. But for all that, Huntley has been criticized for his lack of big play potential through the air, notably lacking a certain level of arm strength.
Browns Week feat. Tyler Huntley pic.twitter.com/Oxa06Xgoqw— Kevin Oestreicher (@koestreicher34) October 23, 2022
On the other side, Brown has shown more confidence with his arm. In their matchup last week, he threw for 286 yards, including a long of 47. He certainly has bigger play potential with more arm strength and a certain zip he can put on the ball. That being said, this would only be his second start in his career as an undrafted rookie and he did throw two interceptions and had a fumble that helped the Bengals pull away. Those proved costly as all three of those turnovers turned into the only touchdowns Cincinnati scored all game.
In a win-or-go-home game, where many have already written the Ravens off, there’s no reason to not pull out any trick they could. Using Huntley, a better runner, early in the game to help establish the running backs and avoid costly mistakes to keep the game close could open a window late in the third or fourth quarter for Brown to use his arm for a late score or comeback.
Alternating quarterbacks in between drives or even plays mid-drive could help keep the Bengal's defense, who already saw Brown a week ago, off balance and guessing, especially if Greg Roman can mix in tendency breaker (e.g. using Brown on a QB option or Huntley for a deep shot). You could even keep both quarterbacks on the field at the same time to keep the Bengals guessing who could be the ball handler for the play. Motion Huntley over from out wide so he can end up throwing a pass, or double reverse passes, the possibilities are there.
At the end of the day, without Jackson and down on wide receiver talent, it’s hard not to admit the Ravens are outclassed by the Ravens on offense. Any way to seek advantage and gain an edge should be explored. At the end of the day, I know, at least for me, if this is the last game for the Ravens in the 2022 season, I’ll sure have a lot more fun if the Ravens explore some unique options and give it their all to survive another week, hopeful for a Lamar Jackson return.