We’re deep into Tyrod Time, that unique moon phase when the Ravens’ backup quarterback takes center stage.
Once the regular season begins, Flacco takes over and Taylor becomes invisible; Flacco, entering his seventh season, has never missed a start, and in fact, has barely missed a snap for the Ravens. Taylor, entering his fourth season, has stepped in for a few plays here and there, but otherwise watched from the bench.
The Ravens and their fans take Flacco’s durability for granted, and with rules governing hits on quarterbacks in place, his chances of remaining on the field have never looked better.
But the worst can and does happen. Quarterbacks go down. The St. Louis Rams lost Sam Bradford for the 2014 season after he suffered a torn ACL over the weekend. As the season progresses, other quarterbacks will absorb dings of varying severity and miss games.
All of which gets us to the whole point of Tyrod Time – determining if he is a capable replacement for Flacco.
There really are just two questions to answer: 1) Could he win games if he had to step in for Flacco for a few weeks? 2) If Flacco went down for the year, could the Ravens still accomplish what they want with him?
The second question, in my opinion, is unfair. A season-ending injury to the starting quarterback is a death knell for the vast majority of teams. You hear brave talk in public about manning up and going forward, but behind closed doors, football’s fates are wickedly cursed. I can’t think of a team that has taken that kind of blow and gone on to win a Super Bowl.
If you’re set under center with a guy who takes you places, as the Ravens are, you’re going to suffer if he goes down. I don’t care who your backup is.
A fairer question about Taylor is whether he could step in for Flacco for a few weeks and keep the season on course. I think he could.
I’m not sure that has always been the case since Taylor joined the team in 2011. Head Coach John Harbaugh indicated in the offseason that he wasn’t totally pleased with Taylor’s limited performances. That and the arrival of a new offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak, led to speculation that the Ravens might want new blood behind Flacco. They even drafted another quarterback,
But watching Tyrod Time in 2014, Taylor looks more ready to step in and win. He’s making plays with his feet, as always, but his abilities there have never been the issue. The question was whether he could also make plays with his arm while limiting mistakes.
Last Saturday night, he threw a nifty touchdown pass on a deep “go” route, leading the speedy
If Taylor had to start for the Ravens during the season, the opposition would have to game-plan for him, which is a compliment, and I think Kubiak would have fun turning him loose. (For the record, I have never minded the idea of using him as a very occasional Wildcat-type alternative, but after last year’s disastrous experiment, it’s not going to happen.)
This is probably Taylor’s last year in Baltimore, as his contract is up after this season, he surely wants to compete for a starting job and he isn’t going to get that chance here with Flacco so entrenched. My guess is Wenning takes over the role going forward, although that’s no certainty.
In any case, for this season, Taylor gives the Ravens what a team needs from its backup signal-caller, a guy who could win in an emergency. He’s a veteran with hundreds of practice hours behind him, and he can play.A bevy of potential backups will hit the open market when teams make their final cuts later this week, but I’m thinking the Ravens stand pat.