Jackson may not be the starting quarterback, and he may be unwilling to contribute at any other position. But Mornhinweg should find a way to get Jackson onto the field — no matter how unorthodox his methods are.
The Ravens made it clear Joe Flacco is the starting quarterback this year, but team officials have been vague on whether Jackson will see any game action. When Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was the play-caller in Philadelphia, he devised special packages for Michael Vick when he wasn’t the starter. There’s no question the Ravens view their first-rounder as a quarterback. The uncertainty is how much everyone sees of Jackson, who has been described as a “unique talent” by team officials.
The Philadelphia Eagles couldn’t possibly leave Michael Vick, a generational talent and electric athlete, on the bench. So in 2009 after they added him, the Eagles occasionally took their incumbent starter Donovan McNabb off the field to give Vick a spin. He was OK in the role. During the regular season, he was 6 of 13 for 86 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed the ball 24 times for 95 yards and two touchdowns. In the team’s playoff loss to the Cowboys, Vick threw a 76-yard touchdown.
It’s strange to think an NFL team would go out of their way to disrupt the rhythm of their starting quarterback to get their backup on the field. But Jackson is entering a strange situation with the Ravens.
They can’t be happy with Joe Flacco’s play. He’s been solid but never outstanding as the team’s quarterback — he’s never thrown more than 27 touchdowns. And he seemed to regress significantly in 2017, which was a major problem for the franchise, as pointed out by The Big Lead’s Jason Lisk. But Flacco’s contract limits them from moving on. Meanwhile, Jackson is clearly the quarterback of the future. But he’s not your average backup. He rushed for more yards in college than Giants running back Saquon Barkley, who was the No. 2 overall pick.
Just like Vick was in 2009, Jackson is too explosive to keep on the bench. And unlike Vick, the Ravens invested a first-round pick in Jackson. That’s the type of draft position where a team would hope to get some return in year one. Bringing Jackson in for a few plays per game might throw off Flacco’s rhythm — but that’s assuming he’ll ever find one.
The Ravens might be smart to get creative and use every weapon they have on offense, even if developing packages and plays for Jackson deviates from the norm.