At this point, the Ravens have more to gain starting Jimmy Clausen at quarterback than Matt Schaub.
This isn’t an endorsement for Clausen to be Joe Flacco’s backup next season, at least not yet. But it’s a desire to see more from Clausen, to see if the Ravens need to go shopping for a backup quarterback during the offseason, or if Clausen can handle the job.
Following Sunday’s blowout loss to the Seahawks, Ravens coach John Harbaugh wasn’t ready to name the starting quarterback for Week 15 against the Chiefs.
“I don’t know right now,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll see. We’ll evaluate it going forward I guess is the answer, sure.”
However, Harbaugh did have this to say about Clausen’s performance (23 for 40, 274 yards, no touchdowns, one interception) against the Seahawks.
“It seemed like he did pretty well,” Harbaugh said. “He operated. He has been here for two weeks. I though he did a nice job getting us in and out of plays. We did a lot at the line with him –- that was the game plan. He handled it well…
“I thought he made some good throws. (There were) probably some throws that he would want back. But, going in there, in that situation, and to be under fire like that, against the defense that we were playing, it speaks very well for him. I’m excited for him.”
Sticking with Clausen might seem unfair to Schaub, if Schaub (chest injury) is healthy enough to play against the Chiefs. However, Schaub threw four interceptions during his two starts, including two pick-sixes. Schaub’s problem with committing key turnovers clearly has not been solved. If the Ravens brought Schaub back next season, they would risk seeing more if his throws being brought back for touchdowns.
Clausen is six years younger than the 34 year-old Schaub, and Clausen is more mobile. Clausen showed good arm strength Sunday, with three completions that went for more than 30 yards. Clausen is also familiar with Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman’s system, from their time together with the Bears.
While the Ravens hope Flacco makes a quick recovery from knee surgery, there is no guarantee Flacco will be ready by Week 1 next season. At the very least, next year’s backup will have to take plenty of snaps during training camp and preseason as Flacco progresses.
Giving the Clausen the ball over the last three games gives the Ravens a chance to see more of what he’s got. If Clausen struggles, the Ravens will know he’s not their backup next season. But if Clausen plays well, at least one of the many questions facing the Ravens could be answered.