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You Can Support Lamar Jackson While Still Appreciating Joe Flacco

December 12, 2018 - 7:35 pm
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By Joe Schiller

Today, John Harbaugh announced that Lamar Jackson will be the starting quarterback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday.

Harbaugh made the decision with Joe Flacco healthy and recovered from a right hip injury that he sustained in early November. After almost 11 seasons, this seemingly marks the end of the Flacco era in Baltimore, barring any sudden changes in the finals weeks of the regular season or potentially the playoffs.

Mixed reactions have ensued from the Baltimore fan base – some in support of Flacco, believing he gives the Ravens the best chance down the final stretch of the season while others are in favor of keeping Jackson under center given the recent success.

In our “Hot Take” world, there doesn’t have to be a divide. You can support Lamar Jackson as the future quarterback of this franchise, while still appreciating what Joe Flacco has brought to the city of Baltimore.

As it currently stands, Flacco is the greatest quarterback in franchise history. He leads the Ravens in virtually every statistical category for the position and by a wide margin. That’s largely in part to consistency on the field.

Flacco missed just six games in 10 seasons leading up to this year. All six games came at the conclusion of the 2015 season after he suffered a season-ending knee injury. Few teams have had that type of consistency at the most important position on the football field, let alone have success along with it. 

To put that into perspective, since 2008, the year Flacco was drafted, until now, the Cleveland Browns have started 21 different quarterbacks.

Flacco saw success during his time as the starter, helping lead the Ravens to six playoff appearances, including three AFC Championship appearances. He put together arguably the greatest playoff run a quarterback has ever had in NFL history, throwing for 11 touchdowns and 0 interceptions to lead the Ravens to a Lombardi Trophy in 2012.

He deserves recognition, but there’s also a reason Lamar Jackson has taken over.

Since 2014, Flacco and the Ravens have been mediocre. It hasn’t entirely been Flacco’s fault as Ozzie Newsome and the front office failed to surround him with adequate offensive weapons. But the changing of the guard came in late April this year when the Ravens selected Jackson with the final pick in the first round of the NFL Draft. Jackson then saw his first starting opportunity in Week 11 against the Cincinnati Bengals and hasn't looked back.

The Ravens are 3-1 with Jackson at the helm and have found a formula that’s been successful, relying on the run game and controlling time of possession. They rank fourth in the NFL in rushing yards per game (134.2) and that, in return, has allowed for a fresher defensive unit.

If it weren’t for a few lapses at the end of the fourth quarter last week, the Ravens would have walked out of Kansas City last week with a win over the AFC’s top team.

There have been growing pains, like there are with any rookie quarterback but Jackson has started in just four games. And as much as we can appreciate what Flacco has done, we can also support Jackson’s efforts going forward.

You can have it both ways.