I knew it, you knew it, we all knew it was coming. From the moment the Baltimore Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson in the first round of the NFL Draft, it was inevitable that he would take over as the starting quarterback. Today it was made official, as Ravens head coach John Harbaugh announced that Joe Flacco would be benched for the rookie, Lamar Jackson, going forward. Whether or not you, or I agree with this decision is irrelevant. The decision was made. The Ravens are now playing for the future, and it is apparent that Joe Flacco will not be a part of that future in Baltimore.
I find it hard to believe that John Harbaugh, who lived and died by the Flacco for 10 years, is comfortable handing an unproven rookie the reins of the offense at the tail end of a make or break year. But this decision was not Harbaugh’s to make. This is a decision that has long-reaching effects for the franchise, and without a doubt, it was influenced by the higher-ups in the organization. 2019 will be a year of change in Baltimore. There will be a new general manager in Eric DeCosta, there will now be a new quarterback in Lamar Jackson, and there may be a new coach.
John Harbaugh entered the season on the hot seat after the Ravens missed the playoffs for three straight years. Baltimore started the season well, but a three-game skid put extreme pressure on the coach. There were reports that the Ravens were preparing to mutually separate with Harbaugh after the season, but the cure-all of winning drowned out the noise. Since falling to 4-5, the Ravens won three out of four to get to 7-6. Harbaugh’s job is safe for now, but a fourth consecutive playoff absence would all but guarantee his departure. The Ravens could even make the playoffs and still relieve Harbaugh of his duties as head coach. This is why Steve Bisciotti and Eric DeCosta pushed for Jackson to start. There’s no point in playing to win now if the future is not set with the current regime. The changing of the guard is coming, and there is no way to stop it.
The changing of the guard won’t stop at general manager, quarterback, and potentially head coach. There are many veteran players who will likely be out of Baltimore as the Ravens move to rebuild. The 36-year-old, Terrell Suggs, is almost sure to hang up his purple jersey forever after this season. Eric Weddle will also likely be cut, and the Ravens could part ways with Jimmy Smith, C.J. Mosley, Brandon Carr, Tony Jefferson, Michael Crabtree, and John Brown. Sweeping changes are sure to hit Baltimore in 2019, and the change at the quarterback position is just the first domino in a long line to fall.
Joe Flacco handled the demotion with as much class as possible. He expressed disappointment that he would not be able to help the team in his typical capacity but expressed his happiness for Lamar Jackson. “I thought he’s done a great job. I’m really happy for what he’s been able to go out there and do.”, he said. Flacco’s future is uncertain, but his history in Baltimore will never be forgotten. Flacco’s decade-long tenure as the franchise quarterback yielded some of the best years in the history of the franchise, topped off with a magical Super Bowl run in 2012. Regardless of what the future holds, Flacco will always have a home in Baltimore, a city that will forever love him.