The situation in Baltimore cannot get any blacker for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. In a pivotal year, Baltimore’s franchise quarterback faces an uncertain future. After 11 years with the Ravens, Baltimore made it clear that the franchise would soon move on from Flacco by drafting Lamar Jackson. The plan was to keep Flacco around for between one to three seasons to give Lamar Jackson proper time to develop and to give Flacco the chance to finish his career with Baltimore. However, Flacco’s hip injury complicates this plan.
After starting out 3-1 with a rolling offense and immovable defense, Baltimore was expected to have a massive year. Everything was clicking, and no one was talking about Lamar Jackson taking Joe Flacco’s job. Now, as the Ravens have spiraled to a 4-5 record, and are on the verge of playoff elimination, the heat under Flacco’s seat has been raised to a boiling point. Flacco was already hearing calls for his removal before the injury. Now, the voices are only getting stronger. If Flacco misses the game against Cincinnati, his chances of finishing the season as Baltimore’s starting quarterback are thrown up into the air.
If Lamar Jackson is the starting quarterback against the Cincinnati Bengals, it puts Flacco in a lose-lose situation. If the Ravens lose with Jackson at the helm, the season will be deemed over, and a regime change will be imminent. Not only would head coach John Harbaugh be ousted, but Flacco would likely be given the pink slip as well. He would likely sit out the remainder of the season as well, as the Ravens give Lamar Jackson the rest of the season to develop under center. If Lamar Jackson wins the game as the starter, Baltimore might see him as giving the offense the spark it needs to attempt a playoff run and keep him as the full-time starter.
If Flacco wants to keep playing in Baltimore, he has two paths that will likely keep him as the franchise’s quarterback. The first path is the most obvious one. Recover quickly from the injury, start next Sunday, and defeat the Bengals. If all three of these scenarios occur, Flacco will secure his job for the rest of the season, as long as the Ravens are contending for the playoffs. If Flacco is not ready to go for next Sunday, he will have to hope the Ravens travel the second path, by starting Robert Griffin III at quarterback. Griffin was retained by the Ravens in case Flacco got injured, as Baltimore did not think that Lamar Jackson was ready to pilot the offense this year. If Flacco cannot play against the Bengals, the Ravens may see Griffin as the best chance to win. His chances to play would go up dramatically if Flacco is given a short timetable to return.
For 11 years, Joe Flacco has led the Raven offense. He not only provided stability but became the best quarterback in Ravens history. His historic success in the regular season was outmatched by his amazing playoff career. While the Ravens are grateful for all Flacco has done, his hip injury may signal the end of his tenure in Baltimore. Flacco is getting older, and it may be time to yield to the younger signal caller. Flacco’s injuries have mounted in recent years, as well. In 2015 he tore his ACL, in 2017 he injured his back and suffered a concussion. Now, in 2018, his career is in jeopardy after a hip injury. Hopefully, the Ravens will not have to say goodbye to Flacco just yet, but if he has played his last game in Baltimore, he will be remembered as a legend to the franchise.