Downing: This is an interesting thought and something I hadn't previously considered. However, I'm not sure I see that as a natural fit. The benefit of Taysom Hill, particularly when the Saints had Drew Brees, is that he was a total change of pace. Hill gave the Saints a running threat that Brees didn't possess, and that allowed them to deploy some offensive packages that Brees couldn't run. It's a different situation with Tyler Huntley and Lamar Jackson. Part of the reason the Ravens signed Huntley as an undrafted free agent and ultimately kept him on the roster is that he's a similar player to Jackson. The offense doesn't have to drastically change when Huntley enters the game. Players and media members even commented in training camp that Huntley looked like Jackson running the offense in practice.
What we've seen from Huntley the last two games is certainly encouraging, and he's shown the NFL that he absolutely should have been drafted. He's also proving he's a starting-caliber quarterback. The Ravens are in a favorable position to have him as Jackson's backup. But I don't think it's necessary to force him onto the field once Jackson is healthy. Another difference in comparing him to Hill is that the Saints used Hill in a variety of roles – quarterback, tight end, receiver, running back. Hill (6-foot-2, 221 pounds) is more of a power runner than Huntley (6-1, 196 pounds), so it made sense to occasionally line him up at spots like tight end. Huntley isn't that kind of player. The other consideration is that this season has proven the importance of having two quality quarterbacks. By putting Huntley on the field more often, he's more exposed to injury and potentially less viable as a backup. For all those reasons, I wouldn't expect to see the Ravens integrate Huntley more into the offense once Jackson returns.
Mink: I love what Huntley has done this season in relief, but let's not get too ahead of ourselves here after two and three-quarters games. Jackson is the Ravens' quarterback and they're not going to bench him if he's healthy enough to play. Sure, Jackson was in the biggest slump of his career before his ankle injury, but I think he could snap out of that quickly and perhaps a little time away helps clear his head. Jackson has a long track record of being an elite QB and game-changer. The Ravens aren't going to throw that all away based on a couple good games from Huntley. Also, the more teams see of Huntley, the more they will adjust just like the did against Jackson.
I wrote about this yesterday, but the Ravens are going to play Jackson if he's 100% healthy. The question is if Jackson isn't in tip-top shape. How close does he need to be for the Ravens to go with him over Huntley's hot hand?
Mink: This is a good question and one I was thinking about when Brown caught a season-high 10 passes but they went for just 43 yards. That's not the typical stat line of a big-play speedster. Despite the amount of blitzing opponents have done, they've actually also played their corners back and given Baltimore's receivers a lot of cushion to avoid getting burnt deep. That has made it harder to get over the top, plus it forces the quarterback to hold the ball a little longer if they're going to try. The Ravens have pivoted because of that to throwing Brown more quick-hitters and having him work underneath.
Baltimore did take a couple deep shots to Brown in Cleveland, including one on the final drive that came up short, but Huntley's passes were just a bit too deep. Brown expressed confidence today that he can get some big plays, saying, "I feel I can get behind anybody, no matter how far back they play. We're going to connect on it eventually, so we're just going to keep working."
Downing: First of all, something we've all seen this year is that injury return timetables can be difficult to predict. Ronnie Stanley (ankle) and Nick Boyle (knee) showed that this season as they dealt with setbacks in recovering from major injuries. Hopefully those two are the outliers, but their lengthy recoveries served as a good reminder of how difficult it can be to return after a major injury.
Stanley's status will once again be something to watch early next season. He opted for the surgery in hopes of being full-strength for next year, but I would expect him to be cautious in returning to action considering he's now had multiple surgeries. The knee injuries to Marcus Peters, J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards will also be important to monitor. The silver lining with those injuries is that they happened before the season, so those players have more time to recover. But the Ravens won't want to rush any of them back to action knowing how important they are to the team. The hope would be that Peters, Dobbins and Edwards are back well before Week 1, but that certainly depends on their rehab and recovery. If all goes according to plan, hopefully none of the injuries from this year will linger into the 2022 season.