- - Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Imagine if your wife asked a younger, sexier, better-looking version of you to move into the basement.

That’s how starting quarterback Joe Flacco probably felt when the Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson, wondering how long before the rookie replaces him in the master bedroom.

The question is when, not if. But early reports suggest Flacco’s performance will improve, allowing him to retain his position one more season.

For Ravens fans like my brother-in-law Tony – a native Baltimorean who can’t stand Flacco despite the 2012 Super Bowl victory — a switch can’t happen fast enough. They don’t care about Flacco’s torn ACL in November 2015 or the back injury that kept him out for the entire exhibition schedule last year and bothered him throughout the regular season.

They just know Baltimore has missed the playoffs for three consecutive years. They know Jackson has juicy potential and the sizzling athleticism to make good things happen on any given snap. They know the Houston Texans planned to move slowly with rookie Deshaun Watson last season before acknowledging he was their best option at quarterback midway through the campaign.

Flacco is better than the dreadful Tom Savage who played ahead of Watson and, at this point, Watson is better than Jackson. No matter the ardent objections of Flacco’s numerous critics, there’s no need for Baltimore to rush a transition to the Jackson Era.

However, coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg can’t resist the temptation to get Jackson on the field.

“One way or another, he’s going to be out there, taking snaps,” Harbaugh told the Toronto Sun. “Lamar is also a weapon for us, who can play quarterback. And we’re going to play Lamar at quarterback. We’re going to play all of our good players. I don’t see why we wouldn’t.”

Lining him up under center is one thing.

Lining him up elsewhere is another.

No offense to Kordell Stewart, but Jackson doesn’t need to be the next “Slash.” Splitting out or coming in motion or running the Wildcat won’t aid Jackson’s long-term development and it won’t serve the Ravens’ long-term best interests.

Yes, the game has changed and an increasing number of teams like run-pass options for dual-threat quarterbacks. The Ravens are tinkering with plays that feature Flacco and Jackson on the field simultaneously. I definitely see the allure in those schemes.

But I don’t think San Francisco ever played Joe Montana and Steve Young at the same time. Nonetheless, things worked out pretty well for the 49ers.

“We’ll see,” Mornhinweg told reporters when asked about plays where Flacco and Jackson touch the ball. “We’re at the start of training camp. We’re going to see what everybody’s strengths are. Look, we’ll try to use all of our players that are eligible, try to use the whole field and get it to our best players more.”

Jackson falls in the “best players” category and the offense should have a lot more than last year, when the unit ranked among the league’s worst in several categories. General manager Ozzie Newsome stocked that side of the ball with a pair of tight ends and receivers in his final draft, as well as a trio of free-agent wideouts including Michael Crabtree.

Notwithstanding that wretched fade route Tom Brady ran for New England in the Super Bowl, high-quality offenses don’t need gimmicks to be productive. A quarterback’s ability to extend plays and take off downfield is a nice weapon, but success or failure hinges primarily on his capabilities as a passer.

Among a group that includes Jackson, Robert Griffin III and training-camp arm Josh Woodrum, Flacco clearly is Baltimore’s best at throwing the ball. He’s healthier than he’s been in three years and he’s displaying a level of athleticism unseen since his rookie season 10 years ago.

Someone asked Flacco if he thought repeated questions about Jackson will grow tiresome this season.

“No, I don’t because I think we’re going to win and we’re not going to hear about it,” Flacco told reporters after the second practice of training camp. “To make it in this league, period, you have to be able to tune out some things and believe in yourself and go play. I don’t know that this situation is any different than just making it in the league.”

The old man on the top floor knows there’s a young stud in the basement.

And now Baltimore will get the best of Flacco, whatever’s left.

• Brooklyn-born and Howard-educated, Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.

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