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Baltimore Ravens

Preston: Ravens need to be careful with the razzle-dazzle

Ever since the Ravens drafted Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson in the first round in April, there has been much speculation that coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will reach into a bag and pull out a lot of trick plays.

To his credit, Mornhinweg has played this up and we’ve seen some new creations out there in training camp. It makes sense because it will give opposing teams more to think about and put pressure on defenses in preparation for the Ravens.

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I’m sure Mornhinweg will come up with some razzle-dazzle during the course of the regular season, but I can’t see quarterback Joe Flacco running a lot of run-pass-option plays (RPOs).

A team always plays to the strength of its star players, and Flacco is basically a straight drop back quarterback who thrives in the pocket. I can’t see the Ravens putting him at risk with plays off the perimeter.

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The option play basically gives defensive players free shots on the quarterback. So why would the Ravens expose Flacco? He has already had two major surgeries on his knee and an injured back slowed him for most of the first half of the 2017 season.

Flacco might be athletic compared to Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but quarterbacks who flourish running RPOs are usually agile and fast, making it harder for defensive players to get clean tackles on them.

Flacco is averaging $22 million per season, has won a Super Bowl and has one of the best won-loss records in the postseason of any active quarterback. If Flacco goes down, the Ravens will have to play Jackson, who has great potential, but hasn’t shown in training camp that he is ready to start in the NFL.

I like the way Mornhinweg is playing his hand. Once Jackson steps on the field with Flacco, there will be a lot of “alert” calls from defensive players awaiting some kind of trick play. That’s good to keep them guessing.

But I’m also guessing the Ravens won’t have as many as some might suspect. Usually, trick plays are a sign of weakness; a team that can’t produce on offense. Crazy formations like the Wildcat are for teams without a proven quarterback.

The Ravens have one. They need to use him properly, which I suspect they will.


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