Quarterback Jimmy Clausen didn't get the win Sunday. He didn't lead a touchdown drive.
But he did enough in the 35-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks to earn a second start with the Baltimore Ravens. In replacing the injured Matt Schaub (chest), Clausen showed a stronger arm than Schaub, displayed more command of the offense and avoided critical mistakes.
Asked whether the quarterback position will be evaluated going forward, coach John Harbaugh said, "I don’t know right now. We’ll see."
The Ravens already know what they have in Schaub after two starts, so it doesn't make much sense to start him again even if he's healthy enough to play. Baltimore can't consider bringing back Schaub as Joe Flacco's backup next season after watching him throw pick-six after pick-six.
It's too early to say Clausen should return as the Ravens' No. 2 quarterback in 2016. But he certainly deserves another shot after throwing for a career-high 274 yards passing and making play calls at the line of scrimmage after two weeks of being with the Ravens.
“It seemed like he did pretty well," Harbaugh said. "I thought he did a nice job of 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. Just taking snaps and operating is a challenge, but here’s a guy that has played before, so it’s not like that’s new for him. 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."
Clausen, who dropped to 1-12 as a starter, looked more comfortable in the Ravens offense than Schaub. He played under offensive coordinator Marc Trestman in Chicago, and it's evident that they have a strong working relationship. In the days leading up to the game, Trestman talked about how he sat down with Clausen and went over what plays he liked the most after a week of practice.
If Clausen gets the starting job for the rest of the season, it will be his most extended time in that role since his rookie season with Carolina five years ago.
"It’s a great opportunity," Clausen said. "I wish I could have had some throws back today and [I’ll watch] tape and just get better. Some throws that were off target, the interception -- that was my fault."
After officially being eliminated from the playoffs, the Ravens are in full evaluation mode right now. If Clausen proves as competent in the next three weeks as he did Sunday, he enters the conversation for Baltimore this offseason. If he doesn't, the Ravens have to look at other options in the draft or in free agency like Chad Henne, Brandon Weeden, Kellen Clemens or Matt McGloin. The Ravens' backup quarterback position is no longer an afterthought with Flacco coming off season-ending knee injury.