2016 is a bad year to be a quarterback in the AFC North. Of the four teams in the division, only one of them is assured to start the quarterback on Sunday that they began the season with. We already, of course, know the situation with the Steelers and with the Browns, but this week the Baltimore Ravens are also facing the prospect of playing without Joe Flacco.
Flacco sat out practice on Wednesday and Thursday this week before being able to return on Friday, doing so as a full participant on a day in which practice usually isn’t much more than a walkthrough. Even though he was able to return to practice, he is still considered questionable for the game, though without the ‘probable’ designation anymore, it’s less clear what his status really is.
Following practice, Flacco did not speak to the media at all, and his head coach was not very forthcoming about the situation either. He simply left it at saying that the team will see how he responds to the day of practice when he wakes up in the morning.
While they are being quiet, however, his tight end, Dennis Pitta, for his part said that he does expect Flacco to play, based on the way that he was able to deliver the ball in practice, and that he expects to see the same old Flacco on the field, which in his mind is a good thing.
If Flacco is unable to play against the Jets on Sunday, then his backup, Ryan Mallett, will start the game. Mallett, of course, started against the Steelers late in the season in what was arguably one of the more embarrassing losses for Pittsburgh in recent years when you consider how many pieces the Ravens were missing in that game.
Flacco was obviously a missing piece for most of the Ravens’ dismal 5-11 season in 2015, but two of their five wins did come at the Steelers’ expense, although Flacco was only part of one of them, and in that game, the Steelers had a backup quarterback of their own and missed two potentially game-clinching field goals in the fourth quarter.
This is sort of uncharted territory for the 2008 first-round draft pick, who began his career by playing in and starting 122 games from the first game of his rookie season that year to the 10th game of last season. The final six games of the 2015 season are the only games he has ever missed.
On the season, Flacco his already attempted 264 passes, completing 164 for a completion percentage of 62.1. but his 1589 yards through the air translates to just 6.0 yards per carry, which would be the worst of his career by nearly half a yard.
In addition, he has thrown just five touchdown passes to four interceptions on the season, and losing two of three fumbles, producing a quarterback rating of 78.9. He does have two rushing touchdowns.