By Chris Schisler
The Baltimore Ravens fans won’t see much of Lamar Jackson in the first preseason game. With all the injury woes the Ravens currently have, not adding to them is the top goal. This week should be a heavy workload for Trace McSorley and Tyler Huntley. The two young quarterbacks are in competition for the backup spot. With that in mind, what do we need to see from the quarterback understudies?
Tyler Huntley: Feeling the game, showing off the deep ball, and showing growth on fundamentals
We’re going to start with Huntley because he’s the more exciting player. Huntley’s ceiling is moving on to be a starter somewhere else or at least a highly paid backup for the Ravens. He has a rocket arm. Much like it is with Lamar Jackson, arm talent is often overlooked because he’s such a gifted athlete and his legs can steal the show.
Huntley needs to show that arm off a little bit. If he can show consistency taking shots down the field, even if it’s in garbage time of a meaningless game, that’s a great thing to put on tape. Remember, Huntley could have changed the Ravens playoff loss to the Bills. If he hits Marquise Brown on that deep shot late in the game, the story of that game at the very least changes even if the Ravens still would have lost. We know he can sling the ball down the field. We need to see him hit the mark when he uncorks a rocket down the field.
To be consistent with his deep shot, he must work on the fundamentals. Huntley has to take his dropbacks with the genuine interest of connecting on a passing play. He has to mind his footwork and his balance and go through his progressions. Huntley has to show that he can comfortably do the job. We know he has an arm. We know he can run. What we need to see him start to see the play unfold, and be able to make decisions with the built-in timing of the play.
Bottom Line for Huntley:
What you don’t want to see from Huntley is bailing out of the pocket when he doesn’t want to, being an exclusively one-read quarterback, and being careless with the football. Nobody expects Huntley to play at a Lamar Jackson level. The job he’s going for however requires him to get the Ravens through a patch of Jackson free games if it comes to that.
Huntley can make some mistakes. The Ravens’ coaching staff would be pleased with a perfectly polished performance against the Saints. It’s doubtful that this is the expectation for a second-year quarterback in his first preseason game ever (Remember there was no preseason in 2020.
Because Huntley has a little more leeway, selling the coaching staff becomes a little easier. Huntley has greater big-play potential than McSorley, and the Ravens could buy into Huntley’s raw talent. Huntley just has to show some steps. He has to be in command and be poised and on schedule with the play. He has to hit more than one deep shot (assuming the coaching staff lets him let it rip down the field). That’s what we need to see from one Mr. Tyler Huntley.
Trace McSorley: Be a game manager, avoid mistakes, be sharp
McSorley has the advantage of being the incumbent backup…kind of. The Ravens are more familiar with what McSorley brings to the table and there has always been an obvious infatuation in him from this organization. This is his third season and Robert Griffin III isn’t here anymore. McSorley has the most direct path to the number two quarterback position.
That being said, it comes with some pressure. McSorley has to look sharp. He has to look like he’s on top of things. He doesn’t just need to show that he can go through the basics. McSorley needs to show that he can manage the offense and do it smoothly. If the offense operates well and he emerges as a player that can be a leader when he’s called upon, that’s huge for him.
McSorley doesn’t have to wow the Ravens. When you think about how thin the Ravens are at wide receiver, the offense could look a little lacking. For the former Penn State quarterback, he just needs to show that he’s been here before and he’s a game manager. Being called a game manager is a bad word to hear for a starter, it’s almost what you want from a backup.
The backup quarterback battle could be the most fun depth chart battle of the preseason. This was a look at what you want to see against the New Orleans Saints.