Eisenberg: This Isn't a Doomsday Scenario After All

QB Tyler Huntley

If anything, the Ravens' 2021 season has taught me that I need to expand my notion of what's possible in the NFL.

A 66-yard field goal turning a loss into a victory at the buzzer? I didn't necessarily see that as realistic until it happened.

A Baltimore team with crushing injuries, a minus-9 turnover ratio and 1-3 record against divisional opponents holding sole possession of first place in the AFC North heading into Week 15?

I would have laughed until recently, said there's no way. But that's the Ravens in a nutshell after Sunday's loss to the Browns.

The lesson in it all? If you think something absolutely, positively isn't possible, be careful. It might come to pass.

I bring it up now because the Ravens are facing what many have long considered their form of a doomsday scenario. They're fighting for a playoff spot and Lamar Jackson's status is uncertain. He flew home in a walking boot after a sprained ankle knocked him out of Sunday's game in Cleveland.

"Lamar has an ankle sprain. It's not a high ankle sprain, which is good news. We'll just have to see what it is from there, how he feels this week going forward and what it looks like," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday.

There's a chance he'll play Sunday against the Green Bay Packers at M&T Bank Stadium. "The plans are right now, in my mind, for Lamar to be out there," Harbaugh said.

But injuries of this nature are unpredictable and Plan B also is a possibility. If Jackson can't go, "Tyler will be out there," Harbaugh said, referring to Tyler Huntley, Jackson's backup, who played so well in relief Sunday that the Browns joked on the sidelines that they were rooting for Jackson to come back and play.

"I thought he was quick and just as good," Cleveland defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said of Huntley.

"Their skillsets are similar," added Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski. "(Huntley) can throw it. He can make plays late in the down, as you saw. He is hard to get on the ground."

It makes for another example of the 2021 season normalizing what I once thought was impossible.

A December playoff push with Jackson's status uncertain? Until recently, the prospect would have produced a code-red panic across Baltimore. Few teams have depended more on one player than the Ravens have depended on Jackson since he became a starter.

But that was before Jackson's recent lull (for him) in which he struggled to react quickly to blitzes and threw more interceptions than usual. It reached a nadir early in Sunday's game when the offense seemingly couldn't move at all.

Things improved after Huntley came on. After a hesitant start, he unloaded the ball quicker, threw downfield, completed back-shoulder fades. The passing game perked up.

Huntley isn't quite as explosive as Jackson as a runner, but he is an effective scrambler with a big-time arm.

So here we are. The status of Jackson's ankle surely will dominate all chatter about the Ravens this week, but I don't believe a wave of code-red panic is poised to roll through, like a violent thunderstorm, if Jackson can't go.

It isn't a doomsday scenario. Honestly, the Ravens have bigger issues than who lines up at quarterback. Their offensive tackles are struggling. They had zero sacks and one quarterback hit Sunday, ominous numbers with the Packers' Aaron Rodgers on his way to town. And they're always dealing with more injuries.

Maybe it's premature to give Huntley so much credit because he is young and has barely played, but he looks like a more-than-able fill-in for Jackson, quite capable of giving the Ravens a chance to win.

A healthy Jackson at the top of his game is the preferred choice, of course, giving the Ravens an even better chance to win. While he hasn't been at his best lately, his record as a playmaker speaks for itself.

Nonetheless, my hunch is a lot of people would be fine with seeing Huntley at quarterback if Jackson is anything less than 100 percent. The team certainly wouldn't blink.

Talk about something I wasn't sure we'd ever see.

Related Content