Since the Ravens ended the first round of the NFL Draft with a bang, speculation has surrounded the quarterback position. As many asked how long it would take for Lamar Jackson to seize Joe Flacco’s job, others tried to answer. Many in the media came to the conjecture that the transition would come soon, inflating the hype surrounding the Heisman Trophy winner. But as the excitement about the rookie dominated discussion, one man remained quiet about the subject. That man is the veteran, Joe Flacco. Flacco has never been one to broadcast his thoughts publicly. As other veteran quarterbacks talked about their future with successors on their heels, Flacco remained mute. Flacco knows what the addition of Jackson means, and while the public continues to gaze at the shiniest new product in town, Flacco again bets on himself at a critical point in his career.
The new gamble Joe Flacco is taking is of much greater risk than his previous in 2012. Flacco must prove to not only the Ravens but the fans that he is still the irreplaceable engine that makes the offense move. Ravens fans are always vocal, but the current climate of disappointing seasons and mundane playstyle has created a whirlwind of fans who want to see nothing but the emergence of Lamar Jackson as the starting quarterback as quickly as possible. To be clear, this article is in no way an attack on Lamar Jackson. The Ravens were justified in adding a young talented passer. For the first time since his rookie season, Joe Flacco now has true competition for the starting quarterback position.
As we have seen with other franchises in the league, teams are not shy of making quarterback changes earlier than expected. Mike Glennon was supposed to be the starter for the year in Chicago, but Mitchell Trubisky was given the reins by October. In Houston, Tom Savage was going to be the starter for the year, but by the second half of game one, Deshaun Watson took over. Flacco knows that he must avoid the pitfalls of others, and play the very best football in order to remain as the established starter. Unlike the other quarterbacks who found themselves ousted from their jobs, Flacco has a chance to prevent a premature departure.
As previously stated, Joe Flacco is the established starter in Baltimore. The quarterbacks who lost their jobs were not established starters. They were veteran players who were only seen as transitional quarterbacks. The last time a true franchise quarterback was ousted by a rookie was when Dak Prescott seized Tony Romo’s job. And that only occurred because Tony Romo’s health was again compromised. And yes, the Kansas City Chiefs did trade away Alex Smith after one of his best seasons ever to put their faith in the 2017 first round pick, Patrick Mahomes III. But the Ravens are not the Kansas City Chiefs philosophy wise.
The Baltimore Ravens, aside from winning, place consistency and stability above all else. These values stem from owner Steve Bisciotti to the front office, to the coaches. The Ravens will not take drastic measures to alter a formula they know works. It’s the reason John Harbaugh is still coaching the Baltimore Ravens, and rightly so. Coach Harbaugh led the team to six straight playoff appearances, wins, and a Super Bowl victory in his first five years. Although he and the franchise hit a bit of slump, the evidence suggests that Harbaugh can return the Ravens to greatness. The same thought process applies to Joe Flacco.
If Joe Flacco can perform the way he did in 2011, 2012, or 2014, the Ravens will be hesitant to dismantle a system that succeeds and wins. It is not an issue of how well Lamar Jackson plays, but rather of how well Joe Flacco plays. And for the first time since 2015, Flacco is truly healthy, with a new set of weapons around him, primed to strike. The change in attitude is palpable. Not only has Flacco received tremendous praise from coaches, he has even gone out of his way to practice with receivers when the Ravens aren’t practicing. For years Flacco has been criticized by fans for not independently meeting with wide receivers in the offseason. If his sudden participation in extra practice with receivers does not signal a paradigm shift, I do not know what does.
It is clear that Flacco wants to hold on to his position as the franchise quarterback in Baltimore. While the NFL world continues to talk about the hottest topic in Baltimore, one player will quietly work to defend his position. Flacco has the utmost confidence in himself, he always has. He bet on himself in 2012, and it paid off with a Super Bowl ring, MVP award, and he was made the highest paid quarterback in football at the time. The legendary gamble was successful, and once again, Flacco bets on himself in another critical point in his career.