Deshaun Watson was one of the most exciting players of the 2017 season, the rookie quarterback stepping in and beginning to turn the Houston Texans in a new direction both with his arm and his legs. His ACL tear devastated the team as their season quickly ground to a halt, but excitement is renewed upon his return.
He didn’t begin the season as the Texans’ starter. The plan wasn’t to throw him into the fire right away. After botching the position with the signing of Brock Osweiler, they were prepared to go into the season led by Tom Savage, but it wasn’t long before he lost his job to the rookie.
Former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith, now a member of the media, sees parallels between the Texans’ second-year quarterback and the passer his former team just drafted, Lamar Jackson.
Perhaps most importantly, Smith said that he believes Jackson has the capability of displaying the same college-to-the-pros improvements in his game that Watson did going from Clemson to the National Football League.
“He’s willing to hone in his craft and improve on whatever deficiencies he has, kind of like Deshaun Watson did when he was at Clemson”, he said of Jackson. “Every year they said he needed to be more pocket-present. That’s what he did. Be more accurate. That’s what he’s become”.
Smith did add that he believes Flacco will still be the starter, but the reality is that we frequently see these plans quickly change when a young quarterback is involved. Mike Glennon was supposed to start last season for the entire year over the relatively inexperienced Mitchell Trubisky, but that didn’t last too long.
Patrick Mahomes was a rare case, it seems, and perhaps it took a career year from Alex Smith to fend off the young rival. Even still, the Kansas City Chiefs chose to deal the veteran quarterback to make way for their future.
And let’s be honest, Smith is a much better quarterback than Flacco is right now, and better than he ever was. Flacco would be entirely justified to be worried about his starting position, not just in the imminent future, but for September. And that has as much to do with his own struggles as anything Jackson might show.
It’s very rare for first-round quarterbacks to sit during their rookie seasons these days. At least to sit for very long. The Ravens do plan on getting Jackson involved immediately, putting both quarterbacks on the field at the same time in creative ways.
It’s easily foreseeable that that could gradually lead to a change at the quarterback position during the 2018 season. Jackson doesn’t even have to look amazing. He just has to look promising, as long as Flacco continues to look as he has for the past five years.