As Passers, Tyler Huntley and Lamar Jackson Are Vastly Different
The more Tyler Huntley plays, the more people comment on how much his skill set mirrors Lamar Jackson's.
The most obvious trait shared by Huntley and Jackson, of course, is their ability to run and juke defenders. When comparing them as passers, however, that's where the similarities end.
"For as much as the two might have in common — their South Florida ties, their dual-threat ability — Jackson and Huntley operate coordinator Greg Roman's passing attack with almost competing approaches," The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer wrote. "At one end of the spectrum is Jackson, a deep-throwing, middle-field-targeting, occasionally-too-patient veteran. At the other end is Huntley, a quick-trigger, field-spreading newcomer with just two career starts."
Shaffer noted that Huntley and Jackson are both averaging around eight yards per carry on scrambles, but they couldn't be more different as passers.
"If Jackson's closest NFL analogs are strong-armed, aggressive peers like Russell Wilson and Josh Allen, Huntley's might be Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan, field generals who prefer paper cuts to uppercuts. His longest completion Sunday, as determined by air yards, traveled just 15 yards downfield," Shaffer wrote.
Huntley has the eighth-fastest average time to throw among the 40 qualifying quarterbacks on Next Gen Stats (2.66 seconds); Jackson has the fifth slowest (2.96 seconds). Huntley has the seventh-lowest average intended air yards (7 yards downfield per attempt); Jackson has the second highest (9.6 yards per attempt).
It's uncertain whether Jackson (ankle) will be healthy enough to start Sunday's AFC North showdown against the Cincinnati Bengals or if Huntley will make his second consecutive start.
"If Huntley is called on again Sunday in Cincinnati, the Ravens could benefit from his get-the-ball-out approach — and also from more Jackson-esque big plays," Shaffer wrote. "The Bengals sacked Jackson five times in Week 7, flustering him with 'Cover 0' blitzes and taking away his escape routes on scrambles. They also allowed back-to-back 30-plus-yard pass plays to wide receivers Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown and Rashod Bateman on the third-quarter touchdown drive that gave the Ravens their final lead of the game."
Huntley, who led the Ravens over the Chicago Bears in Week 11 and played well in relief of the injured Jackson in Week 14 against the Cleveland Browns, is coming off an outstanding performance against the Green Bay Packers in which he threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 73 yards and two touchdowns.
"Huntley's performance Sunday marked another step forward in his development, but the Bengals could be his toughest test yet," Shaffer wrote. "Cincinnati ranks 11th in the NFL in defensive efficiency, according to Football Outsiders, ahead of the Chicago Bears (18th), Browns (15th) and Packers (22nd)."
Huntley Making Teams Regret Not Drafting Him
Something else Jackson and Huntley have in common is that they were underestimated by talent evaluators coming out of college.
Four quarterbacks were selected before the Ravens took Jackson with the final pick of the first round in 2018. As for Huntley, he was expected to be a Day 3 pick in 2020 but went undrafted. Moreover, Huntley wasn't even invited to the Scouting Combine.
"And it's not like Huntley was some nobody in college," Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith wrote. "He was a three-year starter at Utah who was chosen first-team All-Pac-12 in 2019 — chosen over, among others, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, who went sixth overall in the 2020 draft to the Chargers and is now one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
"A whole lot of teams wish they could have a do-over in 2020 and spend a draft pick on Huntley. It's too late for that, but smart teams are surely examining how they whiffed on Huntley, and vowing not to repeat the mistake of letting a talented quarterback go undrafted."
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote: "The draft is an inexact science as we know, but it's still hard to believe that 13 quarterbacks were taken in 2020 and Huntley, who won a lot of games for a quality Utah program, wasn't one of them. Teams apparently had questions about his size and his mechanics. You can do something about the mechanics and you'd think you can live with the size concerns when you're talking about a sixth- or seventh-round investment.
"After all, NFL teams were willing that year to take chances on Florida International's James Morgan (fourth round, Jets), Hawaii's Cole McDonald (seventh round, Titans), James Madison's Ben DiNucci (seventh round, Cowboys) and Mississippi State's Tommy Stevens (seventh round, Saints)."
John Harbaugh Is on the Cold Seat
Head Coach John Harbaugh has been scrutinized for his decisions to attempt game-winning two-point conversions rather than kick extra points and play for overtime. Because those attempts were unsuccessful, some absurd, knee-jerk reactions from a vocal minority of fans ensued.
Second-guessing head coaches' decisions comes with the territory, but there's no debating the superb job Harbaugh has done this season with an injury-ravaged roster.
ESPN asked its beat reporters to rate the job security for the head coach of the team they cover, from four (hot seat) to one (cold seat). Of course, Harbaugh got a "one."
"There's been plenty of debate over Harbaugh's decisions to go for two points late in games, but the Ravens wouldn't be in these contests if not for his coaching," ESPN’s Jamison Hensley wrote. "Baltimore is 8-6 despite having 23 players on injured reserve at some point this season. Even if the Ravens don't make the postseason, this has been one of Harbaugh's more remarkable coaching performances in what has been a successful 14 seasons in Baltimore. Since Harbaugh became the Ravens' coach in 2008, Baltimore has won 137 games. Only four teams (Patriots, Packers, Steelers and Saints) have won more over that span."
In regard to the hot takes directed at Harbaugh, Russell Street Report’s Tony Lombardi wrote: "Harbaugh, arguably more than any other person on the planet, has groomed the inviting culture that envelopes the Baltimore Ravens franchise. He has a unique managerial skill set that affords him the opportunity to be a players' coach without losing his position in the pecking order of organizational clout.
"Players want to play for John. Families of the players embrace his style, grounded in decency, hard work, commitment, team and faith. It's why a player like Justin Houston will take 50% less to become a Raven instead of a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's why after a decision that didn't work out as Harbaugh planned that negatively affects his players, that the players console HIM!"
Video of Harbaugh talking to his players to get their opinion on whether to go for two against the Packers drew applause from pundits.
Marlon Humphrey Named NFL's Best Matchup Cornerback By ESPN
Like several of the Ravens' positional groups, the secondary has been hit hard by injuries. Still, three Ravens — cornerback Marlon Humphrey and safeties Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott — made ESPN's list of the best defensive backs at specific skills.
Humphrey was chosen as the league's best matchup cornerback.
"Humphrey tore a pectoral muscle in early December and is out for the rest of the season, but I love his physical and disruptive style of play in coverage, regardless of the matchup," ESPN’s Matt Bowen wrote. "Humphrey can lock in outside of the numbers, bump down to the slot, and we've seen him battle with tight ends, too. In 12 games, Humphrey had 13 pass breakups."
Clark and Elliott were the top runner-up for best blitzing safety and best monsterback, respectively.
- Defensive tackle, offensive line and linebacker were identified as the Ravens' top three needs in the 2022 draft by NFL.com: "If the adage that defenses must be strong up the middle still holds true, there could be some critical holes to fill for the Ravens come April," Chase Goodbread wrote. "Interior defensive linemen Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell, who continues to perform at a high level, middle linebacker Josh Bynes, and safety DeShon Elliott are all pending free agents, as well as others at those positions."