McSorley Steps Up But Will It Cause Him To Stumble

Trace McSorley in Preseason Game 3 against the Eagles

When Richard “Trace” McSorley was drafted in the sixth round, Baltimore Ravens fans were surprised to say the least. They had just drafted a first round quarterback last year and Robert Griffin III had steadily improved. He even showed well last year when having to fill in for Lamar Jackson when he sat briefly while in concussion protocol. Many fans felt that pick could have been used to fill many needs, but General Manager Eric DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh had other plans for McSorley.

It wasn’t long after the draft that Ravens Coach John Harbaugh stoked the fires of the pundits by mentioning that they would use McSorley in any package they could and that he could even play on special teams. Pretty soon every Raven’s fan was thinking McSorley would be the Ravens version of Taysom Hill, the multi-purpose backup quarterback of the New Orleans Saints. McSorley ran a 4.57 second forty and scored highly on the remainder of his combine scores. It seemed logical and likely he could and would fit in that role.

Then RGIII injured his hand in a freak accident on the helmet of Timmy Williams. Immediately, the plans for McSorley were put on hold, all his spare time during practice was spent filling the role of the number 2 quarterback. As would be expected for a sixth round quarterback he struggled mightily when thrust into that role. He was able to use his feet, his head and his strong arm to do better than expected, but still, he wasn’t going to make anyone think he could make a living as a backup quarterback in the league, just yet. To his credit he stuck in there and improved as time went on.

There was a time when I thought that if McSorley developed into a strong multi-purpose weapon, the Ravens would activate McSorley and have him as a multi-purpose tool and an emergency game backup to Lamar to fill in if necessary. RGIII would be inactive unless Lamar Jackson would miss several games, then RGIII would suit and start with McSorley in his typical multi-purpose/backup role. Made sense at the time, McSorley’s contribution to the team would be greater than RGIII’s. Though RGIII was in for a couple plays with Lamar, he was mostly used as a decoy. Had McSorley developed, he would be far more valuable on offense, special teams and gimmick plays.

However, he wasn’t getting the special teams reps he would have been getting had RGIII been taking the QB2 snaps. McSorley didn’t get the snaps in the backfield, in the slot, split out wide he would have gotten because he was under center. The skills he needed to develop to be good in the multi-purpose role, he was intended for, were tossed by the wayside so he could be a backup quarterback. His “Taysom Hill” role was slowing starting to slip away from him.

To his credit, McSorley did play well in the Eagle’s preseason game against their starting defense. Greg Roman, who appeared to have cracked open his secret playbook a little with McSorley, helped Trace in his success against the Eagles. We saw a little more of the RPO with the quarterback keeping the ball, a little more play-action, a bootleg with McSorley that was planned for him to run all which opened up more of the passing game for him. He has a tremendous arm and was very accurate for the most part. (except for being a little behind Boykin, which he should have caught anyway). However, with RGIII scheduled to be ready for week 1, he isn’t going to beat out RGIII for the backup quarterback job.

It is not odd in sports when one person gets injured it has a major impact on other player’s careers both good and bad. The Ravens have a lot of depth in a couple positions, and a couple positions that keeping McSorley could have a major impact on. Wide receiver, defensive lineman, and running back could be impacted the most. Players like Jaleel Scott, Michael Floyd, Kenneth Dixon, Gerald Willis and Daylon Mack all may be number 54 on the roster list if McSorley makes the roster. One injury, one player thrust into a role he was never intended for and another couple players whose career may hinge on how well they all play in the final preseason game. It is the tangled web of shuffling roster pieces to get the team down to 53 players

I will have to say, McSorley has shown me more than I would have ever expected. Greg Roman and his play calling and expertise has helped him along greatly, however, unless something drastic changes, it seems to me the Ravens would be best suited to put McSorley on the practice squad and give him the time to develop in the Taysom Hill role. He has shown a good bit in preseason but unless he has an unbelievable game this Thursday against the Washington team, I don’t think he has shown enough that another team is going to claim him to be either a starter or a backup. The Ravens really need players in other positions and though the multi-purpose role they intended for McSorley has been put on the back burner, it has not been disposed of completely, it is just is going to take a little more time than anticipated.

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