Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore: Who has the more interesting QB room?

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 30: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on in the second half of a preseason game against the Washington Redskins at M&T Bank Stadium on August 30, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 30: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on in the second half of a preseason game against the Washington Redskins at M&T Bank Stadium on August 30, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

We could see three quarterbacks on the field this Sunday as the Cleveland Browns host the Baltimore Ravens, but which quarterback room is more interesting?

Sunday’s game versus Baltimore pits the Cleveland Browns and Baker Mayfield versus the Baltimore Ravens, a team expected to play two quarterbacks on Sunday: the veteran Joe Flacco and one of the most talented athletes of this generation of college football players in Lamar Jackson.

Flacco is the veteran who owns a Super Bowl ring from Super Bowl XLVII following the 2012 season, in which he was the MVP. But after his Super Bowl win, Flacco seemed to regress, throwing 22 picks in 2013, followed a comeback season of sorts in 2014, but then followed with three consecutive so-so seasons in 2015,2016, and 2017.

Yet, Chris Schisler of Ebony Bird believes that Flacco is still entrenched as the starter, and in fact is playing better in 2018 than he has in years. Schisler says he’s on fire and that “Flacco controls how long Flacco plays,” is the way Schisler put it. The Ravens are not in a hurry to bench Flacco as long as he continues to play well.

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On the other hand, the Ravens are aware of the immense talent that they have in Jackson, and are finding ways to get him involved in the offense. It is almost an NFL truism that a two-quarterback system cannot work in the NFL, but what if the other quarterback is Lamar Jackson? Granted, Jackson is used as more of a decoy, but his involvement in their offense is exciting nonetheless.

He put together three jaw-dropping years at Louisville, in which he ran for an amazing 4,132 yards and passed for 9,043. The Ravens have let him come in a few times a game as a specialty quarterback in which he is more likely to run than to pass.

In addition, in some cases, he appears as a running back in the same backfield with Flacco. Jackson, of course, will always be compared to Baker Mayfield because both were drafted in the first round of the 2018 draft. Mayfield was the first QB taken, while Jackson was taken by Baltimore with the last pick of the first round in the NFL draft.

Opinions about the quarterbacks varied all over the place, with Jackson being one of the most controversial. He is one of the most talented athletes of the 2018 draft, but probably not the best passer.

Thus far the experiment is working well enough that it is likely to continue to evolve moving forward. If nothing else, it forces the Gregg Williams and the other defensive coordinators to game plan for two quarterbacks rather than one.

Browns fans may be surprised to see a familiar face on the sideline. Robert Griffin III actually the second string quarterback in case Flacco goes down, rather than Jackson.

Related Story. Chris Schisler: Ravens Need Stop Experimenting Lamar Jackson. light

The feeling is that although Jackson can excel at certain special plays in special situations, he is simply not ready to be a full-time NFL starter. For that reason, RG3 occupies the second position in the depth chart rather than the more talented but inexperienced Jackson.

This may come as a bit of shock because the Browns seemed to reach the certain conclusion after the 2016 campaign that RG3 could not play quarterback at all in the NFL. He won only one game as a starter for the Cleveland Browns, which doesn’t sound like much until you remember that it was the only game that they won in two years.

With the Browns, he exhibited a very strong arm, with great velocity and accuracy. He can still run too, which is both good and bad. Like the Browns current backup quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, RG3 likes to scramble to wait for his primary receiver to get open, rather than delivering the ball to his secondary receivers.

His decision making may drive his coaches crazy, but it’s not totally ineffective. If you look at RG3’s numbers, they are really not that bad. For his career, he has 42 TDs versus 26 INTs, which is not terrible. Neither is his career completion percentage of 63.3 percent.

It’s fair to say that the offensive coordinators have never succeeded in making him a pocket passer, but he might still be good enough to win football games. In that sense, he is a little like the Browns’ Tyrod Taylor, who was able to lead the Bills to the playoffs in 2017, despite his shortcomings as a classic pocket passer.

For Baltimore, RG3 had a solid preseason this year and exhibited the same talent that attracted Washington and the Browns to him in the first place. He is regarded as a solid backup quarterback in case Joe Flacco goes down for some reason.

This is in contrast with his year with the Browns, after which he was pretty much regarded as the Antichrist of quarterbacks. But it’s not like the 2016 Browns were playoff contenders that were weighed down by RG3. The Ravens may have more realistic expectations for what they can get out of him.

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The Browns quarterback room is at least as colorful as the Ravens. There can be little doubt that Mayfield is so far the rookie quarterback who has had the greatest impact in the 2018 season. In contrast to the Ravens who are committed to the veteran Flacco and have been rewarded with stellar performances, the Browns quickly lost confidence in Tyrod Taylor, benching him after a three-game career as the Browns’ starter.

That is very Brownsian, but on the other hand, Mayfield is the No. 1 overall pick of the draft. Like Jackson, Mayfield’s resume also includes a Heisman trophy in 2017. Mayfield is two years older than Jackson and had four years of major college ball plus another year in which he had to sit out because of transferring to Oklahoma.

For that matter, Mayfield has more preparation than any of the first round quarterbacks including Sam Darnold (two years at USC), Josh Rosen (three years at UCLA) or Josh Allen (three years for the Wyoming Cowboys). For that reason, Mayfield may be more advanced than Jackson as a first-year NFL starter, and it makes more sense that he should start earlier rather than later.

Ultimately, the fact is that he was able to win his first game against the Jets and threw for nearly 300 games versus Oakland, a game that the Browns would surely have won were it not for the dominant performances by the officials in that game.

Hence the Browns will start Baker the Kid, and back him up with the veteran Taylor, while the Ravens will go the other way with Flacco as the starter and Jackson as the change of pace quarterback.

The Browns third-string quarterback is Drew Stanton, who has starting experience with the Arizona Cardinals. In essence, Stanton beat out luminaries such as RG3, Josh McCown, DeShone Kizer, Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler for a roster spot in the Hue Jackson era. In retrospect, the Browns should never have cut both McCown and RG3 at the same time, as the kiddie corps produced zero wins in 2016.

McCown and RG3 each had one career win for the Browns, which doesn’t seem like much but the kiddie corps had zero. For that reason, it was essential to add some stability to the quarterback room even though he is probably not as talented as the others. This is especially true because Tyrod Taylor’s contractual situation makes it uncertain whether he will return in 2019.

Next. Grading the first quarter of the 2018 season. dark

Still, it would be horrible if Joe Flacco has some minor injury that takes him out of the game, and then if RG3 were to replace him and pass the Ravens to victory, with former Brown Willie Snead having a big day. Perish the thought. That can’t happen. Can it?