Former Ravens QB Joe Flacco in line to begin for Jets in season opener vs. Baltimore

The Ravens’ season opener may have one of the vital fascinating undercards in franchise historical past: Lamar Jackson versus Joe Flacco.

Flacco, the Ravens’ all-time winningest quarterback and Most Valuable Player of their Super Bowl XLVII triumph, is in line to begin rather than injured New York Jets starter Zach Wilson of their Week 1 matchup in opposition to Baltimore at MetLife Stadium. Wilson, who suffered a bone bruise and tore the meniscus in his proper knee within the Jets’ preseason opener Friday, reportedly will miss two to four weeks after present process profitable arthroscopic surgical procedure Tuesday.

That leaves Flacco, 37, lower than a month to arrange for the Ravens, who traded him after the 2018 season that launched Jackson’s profession in Baltimore and ended Flacco’s. Flacco’s first sport in opposition to his former group would mark simply his second begin since December 2020 and his 14th because the Ravens dealt him to the Denver Broncos for a 2019 fourth-round draft choose.

“We’ll prepare,” John Harbaugh stated Monday of going through Flacco, whom he coached for all 11 of his seasons in Baltimore. “We’ll prepare for the Jets. We’ll prepare for all the quarterbacks. Obviously, we have great respect for all their guys, but Joe we know, and he’s a Raven. Once a Raven, always a Raven. So we’ve got a lot of respect for Joe. … But at this point in time, we’re preparing for the players on the Jets and the schemes and the things that they do, and that will be part of it.”

Flacco, drafted No. 18 general in 2008, gained 96 of his 163 regular-season begins (58.9%) for the Ravens. His 38,245 passing yards, 212 passing touchdowns and 136 interceptions are all franchise information. The Ravens gained a minimum of eight video games in each season through which he began all 16 video games and superior to a minimum of the AFC championship sport in three of Flacco’s six playoff appearances as a starter.

Flacco cemented his legacy as a franchise icon with the Ravens’ playoff run in 2012, when he handed for 1,140 yards, 11 touchdowns and nil interceptions, tying Joe Montana and Kurt Warner for probably the most touchdowns in a single NFL postseason. Flacco was named Super Bowl MVP after passing for 287 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers that gave the Ravens their second Super Bowl title.

But within the three-plus years since parting methods, the Ravens and Flacco have hardly ever crossed paths. He returned to the group facility in Owings Mills to honor guard Marshal Yanda at his March 2020 retirement. He recorded a congratulatory video for Sam Koch when the longtime Ravens punter announced his retirement in May.

Until this yr, although, on-field reunions by no means materialized. Over one season with the Broncos (2019), elements of his first two seasons with the Jets (2020, 2021) and a part of one season with the Philadelphia Eagles (2021), he by no means confronted the Ravens, not even through the preseason.

Flacco, who began for the Jets in a Week 11 loss to the Miami Dolphins final season whereas Wilson recovered from one other knee damage, re-signed with the group this offseason. He shortly emerged as the favourite for the Jets’ backup job, impressing onlookers in coaching camp. Just over every week earlier than the proficient however erratic Wilson suffered a noncontact damage whereas chopping upfield in opposition to the Eagles, coach Robert Saleh known as Flacco “a starting quarterback in this league.”

His first check of the season may very well be as taxing emotionally as it is going to be bodily and mentally. In Flacco’s closing news convention with the Ravens, after a playoff loss to the Los Angeles Chargers through which some followers chanted for him to interchange the rookie Jackson, Flacco stated he “can’t imagine a better 11 years with this place becoming my home.”

On Sunday, he acknowledged to Jets reporters that he’d already considered former Ravens broad receiver Steve Smith Sr.’s “super emotional” 2014 reunion with the Carolina Panthers, whom Smith torched for 139 yards and two touchdowns in a blowout win.

“I’ve been in a bunch of games where guys have played their old teams and coaches have played their past teams, and usually, the emotions are definitely crazy,” Flacco stated. “Guys attempt to act like they’re so cool through the week, and it doesn’t imply something, so I do know. I’ve most likely considered [playing the Ravens] a tiny bit, however it’s so distant, and who is aware of what’s going to occur at this level?

“But I’ve definitely thought about that a little bit, like: ‘Oh, yeah, it’s not going to be a big deal,’ but I know, deep down, like, ‘Oh, OK, I’m going to try to make sure it’s not the biggest deal in the world.’ But at the same time, I’ve been through it enough. I’ve seen guys go through it. It’s a different thing.”

The Ravens group he’ll see Sept. 11 in East Rutherford, New Jersey, gained’t look very like the one he left. Just 13 Ravens who performed with Flacco in 2018 are nonetheless on the group, three of whom — defensive linemen Michael Pierce and Brent Urban and security Tony Jefferson — returned inside the final yr. Two former teammates, defensive back-linebacker Anthony Levine Sr. and Koch, at the moment are on the Ravens’ teaching employees. Flacco’s final offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, has been out of the NFL for 2 of the previous three seasons.

Most hanging, although, is Jackson’s ascent since succeeding Flacco — and the echoes of historical past which have accompanied it. In Jackson’s first yr as a full-time starter, he was named unanimous NFL MVP. Last season, he earned Pro Bowl honors for the second time. Now, 9 years after Flacco grew to become the NFL’s highest-paid participant, Jackson is negotiating a contract extension that would make him one of the league’s richest players.

But for as a lot that’s modified since Flacco’s departure, there’s nonetheless some strategic familiarity. Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald served as an assistant on the group’s defensive employees for Flacco’s closing 4 years in Baltimore. Macdonald sidestepped questions Sunday about whether or not making ready for Flacco can be any simpler given their shared historical past.

“We have to do the homework,” he stated. “You’ve got to be ready for him in case he’s in there, for sure. But there’s more to be done, rather than just knowing that he would be a backup.”

Jets teammates and coaches have hailed Flacco’s expertise and acumen this preseason. Rookie broad receiver Garrett Wilson stated Flacco is aware of tips on how to make passes “receiver-friendly.” Center Connor McGovern stated that “you can’t not have confidence in a guy” like Flacco. Former Ravens inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, now getting into his fourth yr with the Jets, stated Flacco “looks the exact same” as he did throughout their time in Baltimore.

“He still has that good arm, nice release, tall in the pocket,” he stated. “Still running around, so you don’t see that too many times from a 35-plus guy. But he looks confident, he knows the offense, and if his number’s called, we all know he’ll be ready.”

Added Saleh: “He’s a pro, he’s a veteran, he’s been there, he’s done that. He’s a Super Bowl MVP, he’s a world champion, he’s gotten the big contracts. He’s pretty much checked every box you can check.”

Week 1

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Sunday, Sept. 11, 1 p.m.

TV: Chs. 13, 9

Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM


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