End of an era? Joe Flacco officially benched as Ravens QB

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When the Baltimore Ravens drafted quarterback Lamar Jackson in the first round, everyone knew the page would be turned from the Joe Flacco era. We just didn’t know when.

It’s official. Jackson got the chance to start four games when Flacco dealt with a hip injury, and Jackson will keep the job even though Flacco is ready to return.

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Ravens coach John Harbaugh announced in a matter-of-fact way Wednesday that Jackson is the Ravens’ starting quarterback and Flacco will back him up.

That’s how it goes in the NFL. Flacco has been the Ravens’ full-time starter since 2008, and the team has won 10 playoff games with him including a Super Bowl.

Then, suddenly, it’s done.

Joe Flacco handles the news well

There is a scenario in which Flacco could start again. Jackson has taken a lot of punishment in an offense centered on his running ability. Maybe he struggles in the next week or two. Harbaugh hinted at Flacco having “a role” down the stretch.

It’s also possible Flacco never plays another snap for the Ravens. He has a $26.5 million salary-cap hit next season, so it seems clear he won’t be back unless something odd happens the rest of this season.

Flacco addressed the media Wednesday, which had to be difficult. He talked about being disappointed but promised to stay ready, saying he’d be doing his team a disservice if he didn’t prepare the same way he always has. He handled it as well as one could after losing a job he has had since 2008.

“It’s part of the game, man,” Flacco said.

There was chatter about Flacco’s reaction to Jackson being drafted, but on the day he was officially benched, Flacco praised the rookie.

“I think he’s done a great job,” Flacco said. “I’m really happy for what he’s been able to go out there and do.”

Harbaugh said: “Joe is a pro. He’s got class. He’s got complete respect in the locker room.”

Joe Flacco was officially benched as Ravens quarterback on Wednesday. (AP)
Joe Flacco was officially benched as Ravens quarterback on Wednesday. (AP)

Ravens move forward with Lamar Jackson

The decision, as Harbaugh said, was based on “what makes us the strongest possible team.” Baltimore is 3-1 with Jackson, and the loss came in overtime at an 11-2 Chiefs team. The offense with Jackson is unconventional, but it has been working pretty well. Jackson has helped Baltimore get right back in the playoff hunt.

Wednesday’s announcement was more than what was best for the next three games. It wasn’t unexpected, but it still is shocking to think Flacco is likely done for good as the Ravens’ starting quarterback. Weird things happen in the NFL so nothing can be ruled out, but most likely the end of a very successful era happened in Baltimore when Harbaugh gave Jackson the starting job.

Flacco will be remembered fondly in Baltimore for a long time, thanks to his playoff success and the championship. But the NFL doesn’t have time for sentimentality during a season. It moves fast.

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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