The Pittsburgh Steelers have followed a six-game winning streak with a two-game losing streak…and counting. In the meantime, the Baltimore Ravens have countered their own string of losses with what is now a run of three consecutive victories, all with rookie first-round quarterback Lamar Jackson under center.
In doing so, he joined a fairly small group of quarterback who have won the first three starts of their careers that also includes Ben Roethlisberger, who did that back in 2004 during his rookie season. Like Jackson, Roethlisberger was not the starter at the beginning of the year, but he is putting himself in the conversation to take over.
Joe Flacco has been dealing with a hip injury for over a month now since the Steelers beat the Ravens. He only just returned the practice but was said to have looked physically poor still, walking with a noticeable limp, so there’s a very good chance he remains out for at least another game just on the health front.
The Ravens are a team who have not made the playoffs for three straight seasons and in four of the past five years. They were 4-5 and staring down what looked like yet another lost season before this recent run, but now they have a one-game advantage for the sixth seed and are very much back in the race for the AFC North as well.
“Sure, absolutely. He’s done enough. He’s played great – he’s 3-0, he’s played well”, Head Coach John Harbaugh said after yesterday’s win over the Atlanta Falcons when he was asked if he felt Jackson has shown that he can be the team’s starter. “What direction we’ll go, we’ll see”.
The thing is, though, that he has looked far from amazing. He has thrown for just 453 yards over those three games, averaging just 151 yards per game, and he has had just one touchdown pass in those games, in addition to two rushing touchdowns, but he also has three interceptions and has fumbled multiple times.
He has rushed for 265 yards in that span, however, on 54 rushing attempts, many of them of course designed, and that included a 16-yard rushing touchdown yesterday that capped off their opening drive in the game.
Obviously, Jackson is going to be the Ravens’ full-time starter sooner or later. They did not draft him without the intention of even giving him a chance to see if he can lead the team. But the question is, are we now at the point at which he is never going to be the backup again unless he eventually losing his starting role in the future? Is he, from this point forward, the face of the franchise?