The Quarterback Triangle

July 22, 2008 | Drew Forrester

Everyone’s talking about it.

“It”, of course, is the Ravens quarterback situation.

So, with everyone else jumping into the fray, I’ll give you my two cents on what SHOULD happen with the process of selecting the Ravens’ quarterback in ’08.

Here’s my short answer:  Let John Harbaugh decide who his quarterback will be.

There’s a long answer too.  It starts with reminding everyone out there that this new era of Ravens football should be treated as such.  It’s John Harbaugh’s team now.  He needs to have the freedom and flexibility to employ the quarterback of his choosing, even if it’s Kyle Boller…or Troy Smith…or, perhaps, Joe Flacco. 

My first recommendation for Harbaugh would be to dismiss ANYTHING that has happened in the past with Boller or Smith.  Don’t give Boller too much credit just because he’s started 42 career games in the league, and don’t let his 5-year track record of underachieving influence you either.  Don’t put too much stock in the fact that Troy Smith wasn’t selected until the 5th round of the ’07 NFL draft.  Don’t worry that he’s been tabbed as “too small” by experts who follow the game.  And don’t put a lot of emphasis on the fact that he won the Heismann Trophy in college.  Notice the last two words of that sentence — “in college”.  As for Flacco, he comes in with little real hope for winning the starting job, which might just make him the most dangerous of the three guys competing for the job.  You know what they say about playing against someone who has “nothing to lose”, right?

Harbaugh would also be well served to not let the players influence his decision at all.  About 15 guys in the present-day locker room were around when the “play Anthony Wright campaign” was launched in the ’05 season and he stunk as much, if not more, than Boller.  Let the players concentrate on how they can be better defensive backs, linebackers, linemen or wide receivers — and let the coaches coach the team.  That’s MY advice, anyway. 

John Harbaugh would also be well served to NOT let the fans influence his decision on the quarterback.  He’ll hear plenty of suggestions in the searing sun of Westminster over the next month.  Ignore them.  The fans need to stick to paying $9.00 for their 90 cent beers and let Harbaugh and his staff ascertain who should be behind center on opening day.

It’s anybody’s job to win and that’s the way it should be treated. 

I’m of the mindset that any of the three could wind up as the starting QB.  If Flacco clearly outperforms Boller and Smith in training camp, go ahead and give him the job.  Let’s be honest here: Boller has played 53 career games in the NFL and has won a bunch of them.  Troy Smith doesn’t have the career pedigree of Boller because he entered the league four years after Kyle, but he prances around the facility like he’s Joe Montana and throws the word “winner” around like it’s going out of style.  My point?  If Boller and Smith can’t outperform Joe Flacco in training camp, neither of those guys deserve to take the first snap from center on September 7. 

May the best man win. 

Let’s not look back and talk about ’03 and the mistakes that were made in handing Boller the job.  Who was better?  Chris Redman?  Sure, they could have gone out and picked up a veteran to show Boller the ropes, but they didn’t. 

And, obviously, they’re not going “veteran shopping” this year either.  To borrow a familiar phrase from a familiar voice in Ravens-land — “it is, what it is.”

And “what it is” is this: a team with three quarterbacks, none of whom can honestly lay claim to the starting job by virtue of their past accomplishments or their promised results.  All three of them are, at best, questionable bets for success in ’08. 

It makes sense then, to simply have a real, legitimate competition between the three and give the starting gig to the best one.  If it’s Boller, so be it.  If it’s Smith, great.  If it’s Flacco, that’s cool as well.

May the best man win.  And, I mean that literally.  W.I.N.