If John Harbaugh wants to start the 2019 season as the head coach of the Ravens, he needs to stick with Lamar Jackson down the stretch.
The Baltimore Ravens are on a two-game winning streak with Lamar Jackson in charge of their offense. Now that Joe Flacco is set to return from injury, John Harbaugh is being confronted with a difficult choice. While he’ll face a lot of pressure to hand the starting job back to his veteran, going with the rookie is his only chance to extend his tenure with the Ravens.
Jackson certainly hasn’t been great over the last two weeks, but he’s given the Baltimore offense a noticeable spark. In particular, his ability to run the football has done a lot to put opposing defenses on the back foot. Running the football 37 times for 190 yards in two starts will certainly get a lot of attention from defensive coordinators tasked with stopping the Baltimore offense.
He hasn’t been bad throwing the football either. Maybe 27 for 44 for 328 yards doesn’t strike fear in the hearts of opposing defensive backs, but it’s been enough to keep opponents honest.
Now that Flacco is ready to return to the field, Harbaugh has a very important decision to make. At 6-5, the Ravens need to play great football down the stretch to secure a playoff berth. The identity of the team’s starting quarterback will have a big effect on whether or not Baltimore can scratch out a Wild Card spot.
For what it’s worth, Harbaugh isn’t giving any clues as to which way he’s leaning. It’s still distinctly possible that he’ll go with the safe choice. That would mean putting Flacco back on the field for the remainder of the regular season.
That would also be the wrong choice. Everyone inside the organization knows exactly what Flacco can give the team down the stretch. He’s capable of providing them steady play in tense environments, but he’s not going to win the Ravens any big games. That’s a problem for a team that desperately needs more playmakers on offense.
In many ways, Jackson is the total opposite. The Ravens don’t really know how he’ll react in pressure-packed situations late in the year. It could turn out to be a disaster. However, Jackson could also prove capable of elevating the Baltimore offense to new heights.
If Harbaugh wants to extend his stay with the Ravens, he’s going to need to show the front office and ownership that his offense has more potential than it’s shown as of late. Jackson is the only guy on the current roster with the potential to change the way that unit is perceived.
Harbaugh needs to make the bold choice and stick with his rookie quarterback. If he doesn’t, he’ll be forced to find another job in 2019. It should be Jackson or bust for the veteran coach.