According to a variety of sources, it’s unclear at the moment who will start the Baltimore Ravens’ next game. The 4-5 team currently on its bye week has lost four of its last five games, and has even dealt with rumors of pressure from the front office to pull the trigger on firing Head Coach John Harbaugh if he doesn’t turn things around in-season.
But a change in the starting lineup at the quarterback position is not related to performance concerns. Rather, Joe Flacco is said to be dealing with a hip injury, the severity of which is yet to be determined, but which could potentially sideline him.
As Jamison Hensley of ESPN reports, the veteran quarterback “is undergoing tests to determine the severity of the injury”, and right now everything up to and including surgery is apparently on the table.
Flacco’s injury occurred on the Ravens’ opening drive against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. In spite of the injury, he did not miss any time in the game. The 2008 first-round pick has been among the most durable quarterbacks in the NFL, having only missed six games at the end of one season in which he suffered a torn knee ligament.
But the team already knows that its future with Flacco is a short one, which is why they drafted Lamar Jackson in the first round, and they have been consistently getting him playing time in every game in a package that has expanded, now allowed to, you know, actually throw passes. He has one touchdown pass and a rushing score as well.
On the season, Jackson has completed seven of 12 passes for 87 yards and the lone score, and he has also carried the football 28 times for 139 yards, averaging about five yards per attempt. He has been targeted once or twice but has yet to catch a pass. Flacco had him wide open for a touchdown on the team’s opening drive against the Steelers.
But the rookie is a pretty raw passer, and the Ravens don’t want to put him in the starting lineup full-time yet. If Flacco misses time, they could even consider starting Robert Griffin III instead, who has been inactive every game as the number three quarterback, but who played well in the preseason.
The team could save over $18 million in salary cap space if they release Flacco after this season. If they reach a point in the year in which they feel the playoffs is out of reach, they could decide to turn the ball over to Jackson and see what they have to build on.
That process could get a jumpstart if Flacco’s hip injury proves serious enough to cause him to miss a game or more. Baltimore faces the Cincinnati Bengals eight days from now.