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Looking For Ravens HC John Harbaugh's Tell In Quarterback Decision

November 27, 2018
A "tell" in gambling parlance is when a player inadvertently gives away his position with something he or she does. It can be something as simple as rubbing your hands across your pants, maybe heaving a sigh or tugging at your ear. 

If someone at a poker table or a blackjack table is adept at picking up a person's tell, it can give them a huge advantage if they know when that person has a good hand or a bad hand. Generally speaking, people may have different tells depending on whether they have a good or bad hand.

In trying to figure out who Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is going to go with at quarterback against the Atlanta Falcons Dec. 2, I watched Harbaugh's news conference Nov. 26 for a tell -- and I think I may have found one. (Harbaugh may have to decide whether to start longtime stalwart Joe Flacco, who's missed the past two games with a right hip injury, or rookie Lamar Jackson, who is 2-0 as a starter.)

Leave it to "The Lantern," Jerry Coleman of 105.7 The Fan, to ask the question that cut to the heart of what everyone wanted to know. 

"Joe Flacco wasn't able to play because he was injured, right? Is that correct?" Coleman asked Harbaugh.

"I think that's pretty well established," Harbaugh responded.

Coleman followed up by asking, "Do you believe in the theory that a player shouldn't lose his job to injury in sports?"

"So, we're going to go back to junior high clichés now?" Harbaugh asked. "I stand up here and say some cliché and get ripped for it by some of you guys, but you can throw a question cliché, and I'm supposed to dive into that world? We'll do what gives us the best chance to win, period, end of conversation. Whatever gives us the best chance to win, that's what we're going to do."

That question by Coleman summed up what all the reporters wanted to know: Does John Harbaugh ascribe to what he called a junior high cliché but has been cited time and time again in broadcast and written journalism? Those very words could easily be used if Harbaugh becomes a member of the media next season and is asked a question about the status of a player -- yet being asked about a fairly sacrosanct philosophy in sports irked Harbaugh.

Not that Harbaugh doesn't tend to go off on reporters on a whim. Remember his halftime preseason dust-up with Brent Harris a couple of seasons back regarding absolutely nothing?

But a decision and a discussion to sit down a healthy Flacco can't be an easy one for Harbaugh to ponder. But he did say twice he'll do what the Ravens always do: make the decision that is best for the team. It is, of course, OK for Harbaugh to choose to liberally use clichés to make his points.

Look, a development could loom Nov. 27 or Nov. 28 that will take the decision out of Harbaugh's hands for another week with a suggestion by the doctor that Flacco should rest some more.

While we won't really know whether a healthy Flacco or an energetic and athletic dynamo like Jackson truly gives the Ravens a chance against the Falcons, my bet is Jackson will be at taking the snaps from the center during the Ravens' first possession in Atlanta.

There's a lot on the line for John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens each and every week for the remainder of the season. Enough to bust through junior high clichés.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox