OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Joe Flacco has lost his job as Baltimore Ravens starting quarterback and will be the backup Sunday for the first time in his 11-year NFL career.
Flacco is finally healthy after missing the past four games with a right hip injury. The Ravens went 3-1 during his absence under rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, and coach John Harbaugh has decided to stick with the first-round draft pick with Baltimore striving to end a three-year playoff drought.
“Every decision is based on making us the strongest possible team we can be,” Harbaugh said Wednesday. “Whether it’s quarterback or defensive line, that’s the bottom line. That’s what it boils down to. That’s how we feel about this decision, and we’re rolling.”
Jackson will start Sunday when the Ravens (7-6) host Tampa Bay (5-8).
The 33-year-old Flacco has been a starter since his rookie season in 2008 and was Super Bowl MVP when the Ravens beat San Francisco to end the 2012 season. He has played in 163 games, all in a starting role. Flacco maintained that role for the first nine games this season, but hasn’t played since sustaining a hip injury in a loss to Pittsburgh on Nov. 4.
He finished that game, but has since been working to get healthy. Now that he’s there, Flacco will return as a second-stringer.
“I’m obviously disappointed I can’t be part of this team in the same capacity that I have been for a long time,” Flacco said. “I can’t say I was surprised.”
Harbaugh and Flacco have been a team since the quarterback entered the league as a first-round pick soon after Harbaugh was named Baltimore’s coach.
“There’s a very good chance that we’re going to need Joe Flacco and any other backup player to win us a game,” Harbaugh said. “Everybody is a starter in the National Football League. That’s the way it is.”