OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended his decision not to remove Lamar Jackson early in a game that beat the Cleveland Browns 38-6.
Harbaugh kept Jackson on the field when the Ravens began an offensive series and held a 32-point lead with 10 minutes to play. The current NFL MVP threw three passes in that attack and was sacked once.
Then Jackson was removed from the game on Baltimore’s next possession with four minutes left.
“We are not going to react to any criticism,” Harbaugh said a day after the game. “We could have taken him out at half time, too. That might keep it safer, too, but we’re not going to do that. “
Last season, the Ravens had wide leads in which Jackson was benched in the fourth quarter twice and only played half of a fourth period twice. Harbaugh said he believes the Ravens were the first team to start pulling their quarterback out of the game so early.
“Lots of things can happen. I’ve seen teams come back in the fourth quarter. It’s the first game of the season, ”Harbaugh said. “We also try to work on various things. You can ask me about the same and I will tell you the same. If you study football and see what other teams do, you will see that people don’t do that and there is a reason for that.
“It’s not that we want to see someone get injured. Go to Seattle with Russell Wilson. I would encourage you to do your homework on this issue, ”the coach added when speaking with reporters.
ESPN Stats & Information does not record when quarterbacks are removed from the game. Last season, there were 11 games in which a team had a 30-point lead or more, except for the Ravens. In those games, only two starting quarterbacks were removed from the game and no one else abandoned a game until 6:30 minutes or less remained in the fourth period.
Jackson was hit more than any other quarterback last season, but only received contact nine times against the Browns. Six other passers took more hits in Week 1.
Harbaugh indicated that he will not hesitate to keep Jackson in the game with 10 minutes left.
“10 minutes to play? Nah. I do not think so. It’s the NFL. Looking at the league, we won’t see a lot of people taking their quarterbacks (out of the game) with 10 minutes to go. Historically it is true and there are many reasons for it, but I will not discuss them. For all who say that this should be done, I disagree, “concluded Harbaugh.