Ravens should avoid using Lamar Jackson in wild cat package

LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 30: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals runs with the ball during the game against the Murray State Racers at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on September 30, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 30: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals runs with the ball during the game against the Murray State Racers at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on September 30, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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The Baltimore Ravens may find it tempting to get Lamar Jackson on the field in the form of a wild cat package. They should think twice about doing this:

Lamar Jackson is the most gifted athlete on the Ravens roster, but he is supposed to be a backup quarterback in 2018. Jackson’s athletic ability lends itself to the wildcat offense. Marty Mornhinweg could put Jackson in the game and Jackson without taking Flacco off the field. It will be tempting but it will also remain a bad idea throughout the 2018 season.

There was a lot of talk before the draft about Jackson moving to wide receiver. It was nonsense, but it was there. The Ravens have remained pretty firm about their take on Jackson. They traded up for a quarterback, the quarterback of their future. He’s not a trick play quarterback. He’s not a wide receiver and he’s not a glorified running back either. Jackson is a quarterback.

Until he is passed the baton, Jackson should not step on the field in a regular season game. Jackson should not get time in a meaningful game until it is his first start and the Joe Flacco era is officially over. The Ravens should work him hard in the preseason. They should spend a huge chunk of training camp, seeing what they have in Jackson.

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The Ravens though, have the luxury of taking their time with their new franchise quarterback. There is no need to rush Jackson onto the field. Every experience Jackson has will impact his growth in one way or another. Sending Jackson out in the wildcat isn’t getting him ready to be the next quarterback of the Ravens. The Ravens shouldn’t have Jackson do anything they wouldn’t do with Joe Flacco. Jackson needs to learn to be an NFL quarterback, not the wild card in Mornhinweg’s shuffled deck.

The Bottom Line:

The Ravens need to be patient with Jackson. When they put him in a real game, it should be as the team’s quarterback. Until John Harbaugh and company are ready to do that Jackson should just be a backup. Remember also that the wild card package would be unfair to Joe Flacco. He didn’t like it with Tyrod Taylor and he won’t like it with a man who is supposed to take his job.

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Flacco has enough pressure on him. There is no reason to be sorry for him, but there is also no reason to make things worse for the best quarterback in team history. Baltimore needs to make this a respectful transition. They need to shape Jackson up into the superstar he is capable of being. Most importantly, the Ravens need to take Jackson’s progress as a quarterback seriously. No gimmicks are required.