As offseason training activities begin this week, Ravens veteran players will get their first glimpse of what the coaches have been concocting for Jackson, which could range from designed quarterback runs to read-option plays to something entirely different.
No one has a more vested interest in these possible new wrinkles than quarterback Joe Flacco. In the past, he hasn't hidden his dislike of being removed from under center.
"When you’re doing this, the other dynamic is the mentality of the veteran quarterback," said Matt Bowen, a seven-year NFL defensive back who writes about the league for ESPN. "It sounds great [to run these special packages] but then you have to tell your veteran quarterback who has a Super Bowl ring."
Five years ago, Flacco ripped Baltimore's use of the wildcat offense. The Ravens used it for a handful of plays, splitting a less-than-enthusiastic Flacco out wide and lining up backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor under center.
Flacco said this made the Ravens look "like a high school offense."
"I'm just not a huge fan of it," Flacco said in November 2013. "I'm the quarterback. I want to be behind the line of scrimmage, I want to be taking the snaps. That's really the only thing. I don't necessarily take it personally, either, in terms of our offense trying to get better. I just think it makes us look like not an NFL team."
Flacco's comments came during his statistically worst season as an NFL starter. But he was also one year removed from leading Baltimore to a Super Bowl victory.
Now, Flacco is in the midst of three straight disappointing seasons in which he has failed to get the Ravens into the playoffs. Since 2015, Flacco has the lowest passer rating (82.4) of any quarterback who has played at least 40 games, throwing 52 touchdowns and 40 interceptions.
"From the perspective of Joe Flacco, he has to understand that it’s a production-based business. Production talks," Bowen said. "Competition is good for everybody. If you’re not pushing your starter, how is he going to improve?"
Flacco, who has yet to talk to reporters since the Ravens drafted Jackson in the first round on April 28, is scheduled to speak after Thursday's OTA.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg both insisted Flacco remains the starting quarterback and Jackson needs time to develop. But Baltimore isn't expected to keep Jackson on the sideline for his entire rookie season.
One of the reasons why the Ravens drafted Jackson with the final pick of the first round was the makeup of their coaching staff. Mornhinweg and quarterbacks coach James Urban worked with Michael Vick in Philadelphia in 2009, and assistant head coach Greg Roman was Colin Kaepernick's offensive coordinator in San Francisco from 2011 to 2014.
Under Roman, the 49ers ran the "WildKaep" in 2012 while Alex Smith was the starting quarterback. In five games before taking over for the injured Smith, Kaepernick went 5-of-10 passing for 89 yards and ran 13 times for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
Under Mornhinweg, the Eagles used Vick for an average of five snaps per game in 2009, when Donovan McNabb was the starter. Vick completed 6-of-13 passes for 86 yards and one touchdown and ran 24 times for 95 yards and two touchdowns.
"Obviously, we’ve had coaches who have had a lot of experience with that, so that’s helpful to us," Harbaugh said. "We’re going to always try to get our players making plays for us, and Lamar is a guy that can help us win games."
The tricky part is deciding when to use Jackson. The Ravens wouldn't want to put in Jackson when Flacco is hot because it can disrupt the rhythm of the series.
Bowen believes the best times to go with those creative plays with Jackson is on third-and-short, red zone and goal line.
"Those are plays you have to win to win an NFL game," Bowen said.
Jackson is Baltimore's most explosive offensive playmaker, but he doesn't have the consistency yet to be a starting NFL quarterback. What jumped out about Jackson at rookie minicamp earlier this month is his 4.3 speed and his touch on deep passes. His biggest problem is overthrowing receivers outside the numbers.
By using Jackson every so often, the Ravens/ offense gets the unpredictability and big-play ability that it has seriously lacked in recent years. Over the past two seasons, Baltimore ranks last in the NFL with 85 plays of 20 yards or more. In comparison, Jackson has 153 plays (passes and runs) of 20 yards or more over the last two years.
Bowen cautions against using Jackson simply as an offensive weapon.
"For him to accelerate his development, he has to play as a quarterback," Bowen said. "That’s my main goal for Lamar. Yeah, I may have a package of plays but when I bring him on the field, I’m going to run West Coast routes, too. He needs the reps."
There is no timetable as to when Jackson could supplant Flacco as the starter. It could be in 2019. It might not be until 2020.
Right now, the Ravens have expressed an interest in getting Jackson on the field in some capacity.
Asked for his thoughts on some of the coaches’ first ideas on how to use him differently, Jackson said, “They want me on the field to utilize my talent and be a quarterback. So, it’s cool with me."