Sports

Kessler’s Korner: Baltimore Ravens QB Controversy?

By DREW KESSLER

Staff Writer

Featured photo: Former Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III recently signed a one-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens. Don Wright photo for the Associated Press.

 

As most NFL fans are aware of now, the Baltimore Ravens signed Robert Griffin III to a one-year deal.

The signing became official this Wednesday morning with the deal worth $1 million, which is a cheap financial deal for a back-up quarterback. But “RG3” is no ordinary back-up quarterback and will bring lots of controversy to the Ravens quarterback situation.

Let’s go back to Griffin’s rookie season with the Washington Redskins in 2012. He came out of Baylor University having won the Heisman trophy in his redshirt junior season. The Redskins traded a large package again, moving up to draft him No. 2 overall in the NFL Draft.

He was labeled as the quarterback that would change the NFL with his tremendous running ability. His rookie season was solid, throwing 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

However, in Week 14 against the Baltimore Ravens, he ended up changing the direction of his career. He took a hard hit from defensive tackle Haloti Ngata on his leg late in the game, causing an LCL (Lateral Collateral Ligament) sprain.

He was out for a couple of weeks but Griffin tried to play through the pain in the NFC Wild Card game vs. the Seattle Seahawks. The situation only became worse when he tore his ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament), LCL and meniscus.

Griffin’s career was never the same in the following season, splitting time with Kirk Cousins at quarterback. It caused a big controversy within the Redskins Organization as if that is something new.

He threw 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his second season. That would be his last season as the Redskins starting quarterback.

In 2014, he only started seven games, throwing four touchdowns and six interceptions. Not playing in 2015, he signed with the Cleveland Browns in 2016, only playing in five games due to injuries. The Browns cut him, and he was a free agent all of last season.

In the last four seasons, Griffin has started a total of 12 games (3-9 record) tallying six touchdowns and nine interceptions. His career numbers: 15-25 record, 42 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.

Griffin has never been able to stay healthy in his career, having at least six substantial injuries in the NFL. However, having not played at all last season and healing up, Griffin says that this is the healthiest he has felt since coming out of college.

The question now is if Griffin can really put pressure on veteran Raven Joe Flacco for his quarterback job security during the season. With his career numbers, Griffin has no argument other than his rookie success.

Joe Flacco Patrick Semansky
The Ravens might be lining up quarterbacks to test Flacco this season. Patrick Semansky photo for the Associated Press

This is for all those Flacco-haters out there that blame every loss on him even if the scores of the games are above 30 points (which really gets on my nerves.) Listen up! Here are the offensive stats for the Ravens in their last seven games last season.

  • Total Points Per Game: 29.3; NFL Rank: Second
  • Offensive Points Per Game: 27.3, NFL Rank: Third
  • Offensive Touchdowns: 20; NFL Rank: Third
  • Turnovers: 3; NFL Rank: Tied-First
  • Sack Allowed: 8; NFL Rank: Second

Remember Flacco did not play at all in the preseason because of a back injury. When Flacco finally got his rhythm back and built a connection with his receivers and an offensive line that would actually block, these were the numbers.

It is amazing what a quarterback can do when he actually gets protection from his O-line and has time to throw the ball down-field to receivers. Why do you think Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are legendary quarterbacks? It is because they had some of the best O-lines that actually protected them.

Also, who were the Ravens’ top receivers last season? Mike Wallace was the No. 1 receiver. Hurt half of the season, Jeremy Maclin was a bust. Chris Moore was the No. 2 receiver. While Moore is a decent receiver with some good potential, he is not ready to be one of top targets.

Breshad Perriman and Michael Campanaro were the No. 3 and No. 4 receivers last season. Now other than the elite quarterbacks like Rodgers, Brady or Brees, would any quarterback really make a significant difference with those offensive weapons? No.

The Ravens now added Michael Crabtree in free agency, which is the most talented receiver Flacco has ever had, passing Anquan Boldin. Flacco has not had an elite receiver to help him out.

The Ravens also will most likely draft a wide receiver in the first round. Most mock drafts have them taking Alabama’s Calvin Ridley with the No. 16 pick.

Missing the playoffs the last three seasons, this is an important year for Flacco. It was especially heart-breaking in the last two seasons. Flacco is 33 years old and has a team option after the 2019 season when he could be gone. He must prove he deserves to stay.

Griffin is a better option than the previous back-up Ryan Mallet, who was just awful. He will put some pressure on Flacco to perform early in the season. Otherwise, we might be hearing “RG3” chants in M&T Bank Stadium.

Ben Margot Michael Crabtree
“The Ravens now added Michael Crabtree in free agency, which is the most talented receiver Flacco has ever had, passing Anquan Boldin.” Ben Margot photo for the Associated Press

Back in 2012, fans called for Tyrod Taylor to replace Flacco. Turns out that the Ravens ended up winning the Super Bowl that season. Guess who was the game MVP? Flacco.

There is the question as to if Griffin will even make the 53-man roster. He will need to prove that he can run the pro-style offense during training camp and the preseason games. The Ravens are also rumored to be looking at some quarterbacks in the draft.

Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson keep popping up. Both of these names should come off the board in the second round. They could be good options for the future, sitting behind Flacco and learning for a few seasons.

Griffin’s luck may run out if the Ravens do draft a quarterback. There is no way that the Ravens will keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. The NFL draft starts April 26.

Time will tell if Griffin can become a solid piece for the Ravens and not a media distraction, splitting the locker room up. There should not be any controversy unless Flacco really takes a dip this season.

Expect a big year for Flacco with a chip on his shoulder. His health and a talented receiver core should aid things. Also, he will be under the same system with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, now for a third season.

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