It was six years ago that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco led his team to a Super Bowl victory during the 2012 season. He went on a fantastic postseason run despite a pedestrian regular season campaign, putting up historic numbers. His eight consecutive postseason games with at least two touchdown passes is an NFL record.
Since that season, however, the Ravens went 40-40 over the subsequent five seasons. They reached the playoffs only one time, advancing to the Divisional Round. Including this season, Baltimore finished 44-45 prior to rookie Lamar Jackson entering the starting lineup.
In the meantime, Flacco has had to learn a new reality as a backup player, a role he has not been accustomed to playing during his professional career. He was an immediate starter as a rookie first-round draft pick in 2008, helping the Ravens reach the AFC Championship game.
“It’s definitely not the most fun position in the world” to be in as a backup heading into the postseason, he admitted. “It is what it is”.
To his credit, he has taken the move from starter to backup quite well, all things considered, based on his interactions with the media. He was much more terse and unobliging in the weeks following the Ravens’ decision to draft Jackson in the first place, knowing at the time that this day would come sooner or later.
It turned out it would be sooner. Flacco no doubt thought that at least he would be able to finish out this season. A hip injury that sidelined him for several games, however, opened up the window for a change to be made.
The Ravens were 4-5 at that time, and they started winning with Jackson under center, ultimately riding a 6-1 record under the rookie to an AFC North title and the franchise’s first postseason berth since 2014, so you certainly can’t say it was the wrong decision.
But how will the 21-year-old Jackson—the youngest quarterback to ever start a postseason game—hold up to the pressures of playoff football? Perhaps that is one area in which Flacco can help. He won two games as a rookie starter in 2008.
“I just remember when I was going into it, everybody talked about how much different these games were”, the recalled. “The bottom line is they’re all football games, and obviously there’s going to be a little bit different intensity to it. But at some point, the game settles in and becomes a football game. That might happen the first series or it might take a little bit longer”.
Flacco doesn’t have to worry about it turning into a football game, since he won’t be playing unless Jackson goes down. He will be watching from the sideline as he has the past two months. But what will the 2019 season hold for him? And in what city?