Lamar Jackson is officially the starting quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens.
The rookie quarterback has actually started the team’s last four games, leading the Ravens to a 3-1 record during that stretch. But longtime starting quarterback Joe Flacco wasn’t healthy enough to start in those games.
That won’t be the case Sunday, when the Ravens host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Joe is fully healthy, ready to go, he’ll be a full participant in practice, he’ll be up for the game,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters Wednesday. “The starting quarterback will be Lamar. Joe will be the No. 2 quarterback and Robert Griffin will be the backup to those two.”
Flacco was a first-round pick for the Ravens in 2008 and has been the starting quarterback ever since. Following the 2012 regular season, Flacco had a playoff run for the ages, throwing 11 touchdowns passes with no interceptions to lead the Ravens to their second Super Bowl win and earn MVP honors for that game.
That offseason he was rewarded with a a six-year contract worth $120.6 million, the highest ever for a quarterback at that time. In 2016, he signed an extension worth more than $66 million to remain under contract with the Ravens through 2021.
But Flacco hasn’t played at an elite level for a long time. And the Ravens haven’t made the playoffs since 2014. A few weeks ago they were 4-5, having lost three straight, and a postseason appearance was looking unlikely yet again.
That’s when Flacco injured his right hip. He hasn’t played since.
Jackson hasn’t been spectacular in his four games as starter — completing 52 of 89 passes for 600 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions, and rushing for 336 yards and two touchdowns — but he has helped the Ravens turn their season around. At 7-6, they currently hold the final AFC wild-card playoff spot and are only a half-game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC North lead.