Healthy Tyler Huntley or injured Lamar Jackson: What’s better for the Baltimore Ravens?

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley has outplayed Lamar Jackson over the last month. Could John Harbaugh stick with the hot hand?

BALTIMORE — Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh casually dropped a significant bit of news into his postgame press conference Sunday: Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, who didn’t play against the Packers due to an ankle injury, isn’t guaranteed to start for Baltimore against the Bengals next weekend unless he’s fully healthy. Could Tyler Huntley take over under center?

Will Lamar Jackson start in Week 16?

Harbaugh, asked about how close Jackson was to playing Sunday, responded with the following:

“I don’t have that measurement stick,” Harbaugh said. “You’d have to talk to the trainers. I don’t ask that question. It’s whether he’s ready or not. We’ll anticipate him being back next week. But if he’s not able to be fully ready, then we’ll go with Tyler [Huntley]. We’ll be ready to go either way.”

Wait … what? The former NFL MVP needs to be “fully ready” to reclaim his starting job? Not mostly ready?

Perhaps it was a slip of the tongue. Our guess is it wasn’t. Rather, our guess is it was a reflection of the team’s growing confidence in Huntley, particularly when comparing his performance in recent weeks to Jackson’s.

Ravens QB Tyler Huntley improving by the week

On Sunday, Huntley rallied the Ravens from a 2-touchdown deficit and was a tipped pass away from potentially pulling off an epic comeback. Huntley completed 70% of his passes and accounted for all 4 of the team’s touchdowns (2 on the ground, 2 through the air).

Jackson, meanwhile, has thrown 8 picks to just 5 TDs in his last four starts. He’s in the bottom third among starting quarterbacks in passer rating.

“He’s a special player,” Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said of Huntley. “I think everybody who was on that field feels a connection with him. He puts the ball where it needs to be. His eyes are great. I think that, obviously, being behind a guy like Lamar [Jackson], you learn a ton, and he’s been able to absorb all these different things. And I think you’re seeing a special [player].

“… Obviously, I think he’s going to be a superstar in this league for a long, long time.”

The Ravens are suddenly deep at QB

Huntley feeds off that love, saying that his teammates have more confidence in him than he has in himself. It’s obvious the Ravens believe they have two starting quarterbacks on their roster. And it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they roll with the hot hand in next week’s critical showdown with the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals.

“You’ve got to have two quarterbacks that can win for you, and Tyler’s playing that kind of football,” Harbaugh added. “He played really well. I think today he took another step forward, just in terms of handling himself, operating on time, in rhythm, taking off and running at the right time. Accurate throws, all of those things. He took a big step. There’s a lot to be said for experience. Repetition really makes a big difference. He’s a very quick learner.”

Adam Beasley is the NFL Director for Pro Football Network. You can read all of Adam’s work here and give him a follow on Twitter @AdamHBeasley.

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