Here are three reasons why the Ravens were expected to start Ryan Mallett at quarterback against the Steelers on Sunday, as NFL Network was reporting:
1) Mallett has a stronger arm than Jimmy Clausen and is still only 27 years old
With the Ravens (4-10) out of the playoff hunt, the focus has shifted to 2016. Giving Mallett game action against a contender like the Steelers will give the Ravens’ coaching staff a better read on Mallet as they make offseason evaluations. This is further indication that Matt Schaub won’t be back. It also indicates the Ravens aren’t sold on Clausen either after two starts.
2) The Ravens hope Joe Flacco will be ready to start Week 1 next season, but there is no guarantee
Flacco’s uncertain timetable as he recovers from knee surgery makes the backup quarterback spot more important. Flacco had started 122 consecutive games over an eight-year period before his season-ending knee injury. Counting on Flacco’s durability is a luxury the Ravens no longer have. They need a quarterback who can hold the fort if Flacco has a setback in recovery, or is injured again next season.
3) The available quarterback market is thin
Next year’s draft isn’t a deep one for quarterbacks, and the free agent quarterback market is thin as well. Mallett made well-documented mistakes when he was with the Texans, like missing meetings and a team flight. If he doesn’t prove to the Ravens he has matured and become more reliable, he won’t be Flacco’s backup either. But the Ravens believe Mallet has the talent to handle the job if he’s willing to work hard and improve.