Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ravens QB Competition: Preseason Game 3 (Red Alert!)

Welcome to the life of head coaching John Harbaugh. Maybe you should talk to Steve McNair and see if he'd like to give one more season.

The Ravens planned to start Troy Smith against the Rams for the second consecutive preseason game. The reason given was that Kyle Boller had seen a lot more time and that Harbaugh wanted to see Troy more, but Boller's apparent shoulder injury might have had something to do with it. But a stomach virus sat Smith down. Joe Flacco now got the start vs. the St. Louis Rams, and had to play all game.

The Ravens defense couldn't stop the Rams attack, allowing 21 points in the first half in a 24-10 loss. Flacco ended the night going 18/37 for 152 yards and a touchdown.

Flacco still looks like he's improving, but it is clear he still isn't ready. In the first half, the Ravens failed to take any of their six drives more than 17 yards. Harbaugh kept many starters in for the first drive of the second half, where the Ravens drove the ball 75 yards for a touchdown thanks to four complete passes to Derrick Mason. But other than that, Flacco still shows rookie issues, including not having solid accuracy leading the receiver and staying in the pocket too long. But, as many have emphasized, he is going from I-AA to the NFL. It will take time to learn. But, this was a great learning experience for the young quarterback.

The Ravens had hoped that this situation would be settled by now. But I don't see how Harbaugh or Cameron can choose a starter yet. Flacco should be clearly out, he needs at least a year on the sideline to transition to the NFL. So that leaves Boller and Smith, neither of whom have stood out. Boller still can't control the ball and Smith still can't pass well. As much as the coaching staff hates the situation, they need to use the last preseason game before they decide. Right now I believe Boller is in the lead, but neither has locked anything up.

The Ravens final preseason game is this Thursday when they come home to play the Atlanta Falcons. Expect Troy Smith to start with Boller and Flacco both seeing time.

(Photo credit: Dilip Vishwanat, Getty Images)

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