Training camp is on the horizon, and Ravenstown is starting to heat up in anticipation. There are a ton of awesome position battles to keep an eye on as summer slowly turns to fall, but quarterback is not one of them. If there is one starter who is truly locked into his role, it is former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco.
Granted, there are questions about Flacco, who is coming off the first major injury of his career. When Flacco tore his ACL and MCL against the St. Louis Rams on November 22, 2015, his streak of 122-consecutive regular season starts was abruptly snapped. Baltimore brass were hopeful that he would be ready for the start of training camp, and his status was monitored closely throughout the offseason. Fortunately, his recovery stayed on track, and he is prepared to start building chemistry with his revamped receiving corps as soon as they arrive at the Under Armour Performance Center.
Prior to the injury, however, Flacco still seemed to be having a bit on an uneven year. Through ten games, he was on pace for a career-high in yards (averaging roughly 279 yards per game), but he had already thrown 12 interceptions to just 14 touchdowns. Part of the problem came from adjusting to yet another new offensive coordinator, and Flacco's protection was so poor that it was his own lineman that caused his injury. With another full offseason to adjust to Marc Trestman's playbook, and with a healthier offensive line that includes rookie sensation Ronnie Stanley, Flacco should be feeling more comfortable even if he is wearing a knee brace. There is no reason to believe he cannot get back to this in 2016.
As for backups, the Ravens currently have three additional QBs on the roster: Ryan Mallett, Josh Johnson, and Jerrod Johnson. Without a doubt, Mallett is in line for the role as Flacco's primary backup. After signing with the Ravens last December, Mallett has already had the pleasure of beating the Steelers while wearing purple and black, and he started a total of two games while Flacco (as well as Matt Schaub and Jimmy Clausen) were sidelined. Of the three backups that were part of the 2015 roster, Mallett is the only one still in Baltimore, and his experience alone gives him an edge. Despite some character issues earlier in his career, the 28-year-old out of Arkansas seems to have turned a corner in Charm City.
Meanwhile, Josh Johnson is actually the oldest of the backup QBs at 30-years-old, and he has started five games during his career. Although he has some experience, there is not much to tell about Johnson, who will likely be among the first group of players cut when rosters have to be pared down. It is worth noting that Sports Illustrated gave him some love last season, which you can read here. However, the Ravens typically roll with two active QBs, and Josh Johnson is a bit too old to stash on the practice squad.
Speaking of practice squad, Jerrod Johnson may be an excellent candidate for a spot with the developmental unit, having signed a reserve/future contract in January. The 27-year-old set records while at Texas A&M, but his pro career has been a dud so far. While he has virtually no chance at cracking Baltimore's active roster, the lingering questions about Flacco's knee and Mallett's maturity will likely lead Ozzie Newsome to hold onto the former Montreal Alouette, who previously worked with Marc Trestman in Chicago. Jerrod Johnson's age and familiarity with Trestman give him an edge over Josh Johnson for the "third" QB role.