You may have noticed Tyrod Taylor lined up in the shotgun formation during the second quarter of the Ravens’ win over the Browns. More likely, you needed to remind yourself he’s still on the roster.
The Ravens were camped inside Cleveland’s red zone. Flacco was lined up at the top of the formation at wideout, almost assuredly told to simply stay out of harm’s way. Taylor, meanwhile, took the snap and headed forward. He gained just two yards on the play, and a tough two yards at that, then quickly raced back to the sideline for the remainder of the game.
Quite the NFL debut.
It hasn’t been the easiest of seasons for the Ravens’ No. 2 quarterback. Sitting behind Joe Flacco doesn’t exactly amount to much playing time, particularly when Taylor’s strengths at the position are different than those of Flacco. Add to that the fact Flacco is having another successful season - his yards per completion and yards per game are on pace for new career highs - and finding room for Taylor is a challenge, but it’s a challenge the Ravens say they’re trying to overcome.
“Tyrod’s a quarterback,” coach John Harbaugh said of Taylor. “So, he could be in there with Joe in the game or with Joe not in the game. As we said, we’re going to try and pursue opportunities to get him out there. It’s hard to take your starting quarterback out of that spot, because you have so much confidence in him. Where is that balance? How much do you want to do that?”
Through 12 games that balance has weighed heavily toward Flacco, and deservedly so. He’s the starter for a reason. Taylor is the backup for a reason. Sunday’s action was the first Taylor had seen in the regular season, and with Baltimore aiming for a divisional crown and top postseason seed, there’s a good chance he won’t see anymore this year.
Yet, like nearly all rookie projects transitioning to the NFL, time is a necessity. This staff has proved more than once that it knows what it is doing and they certainly have a firm grasp of Taylor’s flaws and, more importantly, his potential. They see him every day in practice. We - the media and fans - only see what happens on Sundays.
The jury is still out on Taylor. Rather, the prosecution still needs time to build a case on the reigning ACC Player of the Year at Virginia Tech. But as long as Flacco is in town, Taylor’s action on the field might be limited to flashes of what we saw a week ago in Cleveland.