Jackson or Flacco: Who Starts Week 13?

Street Talk Jackson or Flacco: Who Starts Week 13?

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Joe Flacco could return to practice this week, according to reports

However, coach John Harbaugh said the veteran quarterback still has to be cleared by doctors because of his ailing hip.

If Flacco can indeed get back on the field this week, more questions will arise about him retaining his starting job.

Rookie first-round pick Lamar Jackson has won two straight starts in Flacco’s place.  He has gained the confidence of his teammates and brought a new energy to the team.

Following a 31-17 victory over the Oakland Raiders, Harbaugh was non-committal about the starting quarterback against the Atlanta Falcons.

“I’m not going to get into that for a number of reasons,” Harbaugh said. “Whether that decision has been made or not is not important for anyone to know but us. If I decide to do it one way or the other, I don’t want our opponent to know. So, I’m probably not going to announce it for obvious reasons – just to make it tough on our next opponent. That’s the way we’ll go this week.”

Jackson was 14 of 25 for 178 yards with a touchdown and a pair of interceptions (58.4 passer rating) against the Raiders. One week after running for a franchise-record 27 times as a quarterback, Jackson had 11 carries for 71 yards, including a 39-yard scamper in the fourth quarter. He also had a 5-yard touchdown run that provided a 20-10 lead and basically sealed the win. 

Despite the modest numbers, his teammates have been impressed by the performance. They know he can change the complexion of a game at any time. 

“It’s the Lamar show,” said receiver Michael Crabtree, who had an 8-yard TD reception. “You just have to sit back and watch, because he’s electrifying. He’s going to run with his feet, because that’s what he does. He’s going to throw it, he’s going to run it, because that’s Lamar Jackson.”

The stakes are high once again for the Ravens, who improved to 6-5 and tightened their grip on the sixth and final wild card spot. Baltimore is above .500 for the first time since mid-October.

Now, Harbaugh could face a big challenge to maintain that momentum with his quarterback situation, he is going to make the best decision for the team, which is trying to snap a three-year playoff drought.

He admitted there is a new sense of energy surrounding the team heading into the final stretch of the season. 

“You want to get on a roll at some point in time in the season,” he said. “We always say it’s a .500 league, and at some point in time, you have to get on a roll to get out of the .500 thing. It’s hard to win a game in the National Football League. You ask any coach or any player in this league. It’s not like you’re going to go on a 10-0 run, it’s just too competitive. It’s a .500 league, and it’s built to be a .500 league.

“Then you have to find a way to make a run somewhere; to win three, four, five, even six games in a row, and to separate yourself. You can do it at any point in time throughout the season – no one says you can’t do it at the end of the year. So, it’s what we’re shooting for, but our focus is one game at a time.”

Jackson has remained humble throughout the process. He takes accountability for each mistake and looks to improve. 

When asked whether Flacco would resume his starting role if he returns from injury Jackson said simply replied: “That’s up to coach.”

So, the Ravens are once again at a crossroads. 

This time, there is a new sense of optimism.

“We just have to keep winning,” said linebacker Matt Judon, who became the first player to register a sack on three straight plays since Cullen Jenkins for the Packers in 2006. “We just have to keep going out there and preparing for the team and keep executing and keep going out there and having fun. We can’t ever get discouraged.

“It’s a tough league to win in, and we play some good teams. Those teams weren’t slouches, and we’re still playing good teams. We’re just coming up with those plays that win games.”

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Todd Karpovich

About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich

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