For the most part, Baltimore has really handled the divorce well.
Even those Ravens fans who were well past ready to see the team move on from former quarterback Joe Flacco have largely said all of the right things since he was dealt to the Denver Broncos earlier this year. They've said things like, "We're thankful for all of the things he did but it was time to move on," or "I wish him well moving forward, particularly when they play the Browns this year."
Those who weren't thrilled with how the Ravens handled their quarterback situation have largely said things along the lines of, "I disagree with the decision and I might be skeptical, but I'll be rooting for Lamar Jackson to succeed," or "He might not be my quarterback anymore, but Joe will definitely be my first pick in my annual Fantasy
'Mutt from Schitt's Creek'
Honestly, we've handled this really well since the decision was made. That's probably because we had time to accept it was happening and the team was successful enough with Jackson under center that it's hard to be TOO worked up about things ... at least for now. There's absolutely zero reason to root against either Flacco or Jackson this season, unless of course the Broncos and Ravens were fighting for a playoff spot late in the year or squaring off in the postseason. Those would be called "good problems to have to deal with."
So why do I bring this up? So kind of you to ask! A regular listener of Glenn Clark Radio named Chris recently messaged me and said, "Glenn, I heard you talking to that lacrosse player (it was Boston Cannons midfielder and Towson University/Kent Island alum Zach Goodrich, for the record) about rooting for both the Ravens and Joe Flacco this season. It reminded me of 2013, when I told myself I would root for the Ravens AND Anquan Boldin, but after just one week I found myself pissed off instead because Boldin went for 200 yards in a win over the 49ers while the Ravens trotted out Marlon freakin' Brown and got their asses handed to them by the Broncos. I didn't want to see Boldin succeed anymore because it just made me angry all over again. I hope things won't be like that again this year."
Chris' message provided the perfect backdrop for a conversation I had been meaning to have.
Look, we're going to pay attention to what Flacco does in Denver this season for better or worse. He's one of the 25 or so most significant athletes in the history of our city. We're going to check in. We're going to have mixed emotions. But there's one thing fans and analysts looking at the Ravens absolutely should try to be better than.
We shouldn't judge Lamar Jackson by what Joe Flacco does this year.
When you read that, you probably think "I get it, if Flacco has a great season and Lamar struggles, we shouldn't crucify the second-year quarterback because his predecessor found success elsewhere." And yeah, that's part of it. If Flacco finds new life in the thin air of Denver while Jackson experiences hiccups in development, we shouldn't be in a rush to grab our pitchforks. (Plus we're still going to need them for when we storm Area 51, you guys.)
But it goes beyond that. We should judge Lamar Jackson based on Lamar Jackson ... and the Ravens' offense. It shouldn't have a damn thing to do with Flacco.
So if the Ravens' offense were to disappoint this season while (hypothetically) the Broncos failed to get going under Flacco and ultimately replaced him with rookie Drew Lock, we shouldn't lazily turn to "well at least the Ravens made the right decision when it comes to Flacco and Jackson."
This is silly for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps Flacco finding success in Denver might have required certain circumstances, including the possibility of him having a fire lit because he was dealt. And if he were to struggle, it doesn't guarantee that things would have been the exact same had he remained in Baltimore. The same goes for Jackson. The Ravens are apparently tailoring an offense for his skill set, but what if that strategy just doesn't prove to be the best way to defeat NFL defenses in 2019 (a la what we saw in the playoff game)? Does that mean that turning to Jackson was a mistake? Or was the mistake the way the offense was constructed?
Point being, none of those issues have direct correlations to the other quarterback. Jackson's performance in Baltimore in 2019 will have nothing to do with Flacco's performance in Denver. They're unrelated. They should be judged on their own merits, not in comparison to each other.
And honestly, what Flacco does no longer really matters in Baltimore. I know we can't ignore it. We couldn't ignore Jake Arrieta's success with the Chicago Cubs and we haven't been able to ignore the struggles other former Ravens have experienced after signing for real money elsewhere in the past. But the reality is that only Jackson's performance is actually relevant in this city moving forward.
That's it. Full stop, as the kids say. (Is it the kids that say that?) Whether Flacco is MVP or out of the league at the end of 2019, all that actually matters is whether Jackson has progressed toward being the high-level NFL quarterback the Ravens need him to be, no matter how unique their vision for the position. Or how much time he had to waste dealing with
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