The Baltimore Ravens are coming off their bye week having lost three games in a row, dropping their record to 4-5. Baltimore fattened up its record with a weak schedule early, but once it started playing real contenders it got a rude awakening with losses to the Saints, Panthers and Steelers.
The division rival Bengals are on tap this week, and as CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora has been reporting, there is internal debate about whether the Ravens should move on from starting quarterback Joe Flacco and give the job to rookie Lamar Jackson, and the Ravens are . Flacco suffered a hip injury prior to the bye and as JLC reported, that injury could provide the impetus to make the switch.
Getting Jackson -- who the Ravens traded back into the first round to draft in April -- on the field for longer, more pronounced stretches was already one of the coaching staff's priorities with the offense stumbling both on the ground and through the air, and few explosive playmakers on the offense. Having Flacco, not very mobile already and playing through a beat-up offensive line, try to gut it out might not make sense for him or the team under the circumstances, and sources indicated it is very likely Jackson takes over in Week 11. Baltimore has already been carrying a third quarterback all season, with Robert Griffin III inactive each week, so the Ravens have plenty of depth if Flacco is done for the season.
Of course, as JLC mentioned, Jackson is not the only other quarterback on the team. Robert Griffin III has been inactive all season, and according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, the team has been talking him up throughout the week.
Ravens have continually mentioned Griffin as an option to start even if it seems unlikely.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) November 14, 2018
Quite frankly, the only move that really makes sense here is making the switch from Flacco to Jackson. Jackson is clearly the future at the position for the Ravens and they're going to have to re-orient their team around him sooner rather than later. The Ravens can save $10.5 million against the cap by releasing Flacco outright at the end of the year, and $18.5 million by designation him a post-June 1 release. Both options are far preferable to carrying him on the roster with a $26.5 million cap hit in 2019 when you've got Jackson in the second year of his rookie deal.
One could argue that John Harbaugh would want to make the playoffs in order to save his job, but making the playoffs with Flacco doesn't actually prove that Harbaugh is the right coach for the Jackson-era Ravens. The only way to prove that is by throwing Jackson out there and putting him in position to succeed. Flacco's hip injury just gives them cover to do something that is good for the franchise anyway.