The cloud of uncertainty surrounding Baltimore’s quarterback decision isn’t exactly helping the Atlanta Falcons, either.
Atlanta doesn’t know whether to prepare for veteran Joe Flacco, a more traditional NFL quarterback, or rookie Lamar Jackson, who brings the threat of a scramble into the mix.
Flacco has missed the last two games with a hip injury and Jackson has led the team to back-to-back wins. But Baltimore coach John Harbaugh got a little testy about it last week when someone suggested it made more sense to go with the hot hand.
Unless Flacco is fully cleared, Jackson will likely be the starter when Baltimore visits Atlanta on Sunday.
“It’s a challenge,” coach Dan Quinn said. “When you don’t know which one you’re going to face – and you’ll hear me say the offense is not too different – you can take that out this week.”
Jackson, who won a Heisman Trophy at Louisville, has a good arm, but is just as comfortable taking off with the ball. Jackson rushed for 190 yards over the last two weeks and had 119 against the Bengals.
“It’s definitely different int terms of the way they can utilize quarterback runs,” Quinn said. “We have some experience going against that I the division with a mobile quarterback who has design runs.”
Quinn said the uncertainty requires additional time and preparation for the staff and the players.
“It does, because you have to have calls that you feel good with both – for whoever is playing,” he said. “That obviously makes up for the strong majority of your game plan, but you have to have some calls that are specific to somebody that is as athletic as Lamar. That’s what makes it a little challenging and different.”
The Falcons (4-7) have lost three straight games since their three-game winning streak evened their record and restored their playoff hopes. Now any thoughts of the playoffs are virtually evaporated.
Baltimore (6-5) remains in playoff contention, but has little room for error. The Ravens trail Pittsburgh by two games in the AFC North Division and have little wiggle room if they hope to contend for a wild card.