Should the Ravens sit Lamar Jackson until the playoffs?

Ravens, Lamar Jackson. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
Ravens, Lamar Jackson. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images) /

There’s only one man who can save the Baltimore Ravens’ season in 2022, though the risks might weigh more than the rewards.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson has been sidelined for the last four games after suffering a PCL sprain in Week 13, and it remains unclear if he will play in Week 18 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Jackson’s initial diagnosis was that he would be out for one to three weeks, but more recent estimations suggest that it’s closer to four to six weeks given the severity of his injury. That would potentially set Jackson up for a first-round playoff return, yet there’s no question that this Ravens offense needs him now more than ever.

These last four weeks have seen the Ravens on pure survival mode, pounding the football game after game and reverting to a gritty, even more run-heavy offensive script. While that has helped them narrowly win some games, morale continues to spiral downward, especially after Week 17’s embarrassing defeat to the Steelers.

It would certainly be nice to sit Lamar Jackson until the postseason, but that’s a luxury the Ravens may not be able to afford right now considering the disorganized state of their offense and their sinking confidence.

Ravens need QB Lamar Jackson back on the field as soon as possible

The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec believes Jackson should play as long as he’s healthy and makes some good points:

"This isn’t only about trying to win the division, which the Ravens would do with victories in their final two regular-season games, and getting the best possible playoff seeding.It’s about carrying some momentum into the playoffs and giving yourself the best chance to make a run. Jackson is a special player, but expecting him to be at or near top form in the playoffs after essentially missing the final six regular-season games would be asking an awful lot."

At this point, Jackson’s return is more about morale and a steadying locker room presence than anything else. Baltimore’s 2022 season is ending eerily similar to that of 2021 with one important difference: the Ravens have already made the playoffs.

In terms of team performance, however, the Ravens are visibly struggling in all areas on the field, and one can’t help but feel an impending sense of deja vu in the last four games. Backup quarterback Tyler Huntley looks more comfortable in the pocket yet remains limited as a passer and hasn’t been able to consistently lead offensive drives down the field. Huntley claimed he was just trying to “make a play” on his game-ending interception, though that could be said every time the team struggles to get points on the board.

That James Proche intercepted pass intended for Kenyan Drake in the Broncos game? He was just trying to make a play. When the Ravens gave up the ball twice on downs in the fourth quarter of the Browns game? Huntley and the offense were just trying to make a play.

Trying to make a play won’t cut it in the playoffs, and the Ravens’ inability to execute has serious consequences for the team’s overall morale and confidence. Their momentum isn’t just stagnant — it’s snowballing down down the hill like a quiet but deadly avalanche, and only Jackson can get this team back on top in spirit and in performance.

Next. Three positive takeaways from Ravens’ Week 17 bitter defeat. dark

If — and that’s a big if — Jackson is healthy, he absolutely needs to play in Week 18. If not for the AFC North title, then to stoke the fire before all hope for the Ravens is extinguished.