Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has now made it official: Lamar Jackson is his starting quarterback, even with Joe Flacco healthy enough to play.
Jackson will start Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with Flacco as the Ravens' backup.
Flacco had been the team's starter since his rookie year of 2008, which also was Harbaugh's first season as the team's head coach. After suffering a hip injury against the Steelers, Flacco has missed the past four games.
“I can’t say I was surprised," Flacco said in his first time speaking to the media in weeks. "Anything can happen in this league very quickly.”
But it certainly feels like a torch-passing moment for the franchise, even as Harbaugh's status beyond this season remains up in the air. Harbaugh said he was not worried about how Flacco will handle not regaining his job.
“Joe’s a leader," Harbaugh said. "He’s excited. He’s looking forward to having a role.”
Jackson led the Ravens to victories in his first three starts, even with some up and down play. The Ravens lost on Sunday at the Chiefs, although it was one of Jackson's better performances to date, even with a late strip sack that helped give the game to the Chiefs. The run game really has come to life with Jackson in the lineup, and he's made some strides as a passer in that time.
Jackson has appeared in all 13 games so far, starting the past four. He has completed 59-of-101 passes (58.4 percent) for 687 yards, four TD passes and three interceptions. Jackson also has taken 10 sacks and fumbled eight times but has rushed 95 times for 475 yards and three more scores.
Harbaugh indicated that the starting QB decision was still "week to week." The 7-6 Ravens are in the thick of a playoff run and close out the season after the Bucs game with a trip to face the surging Chargers in Week 16 followed by a home game against the Cleveland Browns. All three remaining opponents are still mathematically in the playoff race.
Robert Griffin III, who served as Jackson's backup the past four games, returns to the QB3 role.