It will be a question that will linger well into the offseason for the Baltimore Ravens.
With the season on the line in a home playoff game and rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson struggling, should head coach John Harbaugh have made the move to bring in Joe Flacco to provide the sputtering Ravens offense with a much-needed spark?
The Ravens fell to the Los Angeles Chargers 23-17 on Sunday, bringing an end to their season. And while Jackson’s final stat line of 194 yards and two touchdowns and 54 yards rushing can be considered respectable for a rookie making his first playoff start after having been inserted in the starting lineup midway through the season, his first half performance (1 INT, 2 fumbles) put the team in a hole they couldn’t climb out of.
Even with Jackson leading a late-game comeback effort, the Ravens’ offense appeared out of sync from the opening snap.
As Flacco sat on the sidelines, those in favor of making that move would point to his 10-5 record as a starting quarterback in the playoffs, his Super Bowl MVP and his overall experience on the big stage where the game speeds up and the stakes are higher.
And in the playoffs, in a win-or-go-home scenario, it’s bigger that both Jackson and Flacco, it’s about doing what’s best for the team to advance and live to play another weekend.
But the Ravens would not have been in the position they were on Sunday had it not been for Jackson. He, along with a stifling defense, led the team unlikely division title, something that seemed far-fetched when he took over as the starter. Those in favor of Harbaugh’s decision to stick with Jackson would point to the thinking that you stick with what got you to this point.
There will be second-guessing, but whether not Flacco could’ve made the difference against a Chargers team looking for revenge for a Week 16 loss will never be known.
Once Harbaugh committed to Jackson during the season, there no turning back, not even in the playoffs.
And with Jackson the presumptive future face of the team, Harbaugh made the call to win or lose with Jackson, which was the right one. Now that Jackson has gotten his first taste of postseason football, there will undoubtedly be motivation for him to come back better next season to avenge today’s performance.
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