Joe Flacco was medically cleared to play in Sunday’s game in Kansas City, but Head Coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens had already prepared with rookie Lamar Jackson under center.
Now that Flacco should practice all week and be ready to go next Sunday, will he return as the starter?
Harbaugh isn’t saying, continuing his pattern of keeping opponents guessing, but he does expect Flacco to suit up.
“I haven’t had a chance to sit down and talk with all parties yet involved, but I think it stands to reason that if Joe’s ready to go, then he’ll be part of the game plan,” Harbaugh said Monday. “He’s too good of a player not to be.
“We’ll just figure that out as we go this week to what degree how it works. Everybody will know going in, perhaps except everybody on the outside – unless I change my mind on that.”
When a reporter followed up asking whether Flacco could be the starter, Harbaugh again held his cards close to the vest.
“It could entail anything right now,” Harbaugh said. “I know what we want to do. We have a plan, we’ve talked about it. We have to talk to the guys about it. Whether we share that with the public, we’ll have to let you know as the week goes on.”
Jackson is 3-1 as the Ravens’ starter and helped put the AFC’s leader, the Kansas City Chiefs, on the ropes on the road. His arrival as starter after Flacco suffered a hip injury on Nov. 4, and the shift to a more run-heavy, run-pass option offense, has catalyzed a complementary winning formula.
However, there’s no questioning the kind of player that Flacco can be when healthy and protected well. He has a track record of playing strong December (and January) football.
“I’m excited. If we get Joe back, it’s good because it’s another good player,” Harbaugh said, adding that Robert Griffin III has also played very well.
If Flacco were to suit up as Jackson’s backup for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it would mark the first time for that in Flacco’s 11-year career. Harbaugh was asked by a reporter whether his long history with Flacco would make that an easier or more difficult situation.
“I haven’t thought about it as easy or difficult,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t think it’s a problem. It’s a football decision. Everybody understands what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to put the best football team out there from one play to the next that we can. That’s always what it’s about.”