Preston: Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco handles demotion with his typical class

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco talks about not being the starter for this Sunday's game against Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Jonas Shaffer / Baltimore Sun video)

During the first Ravens draft in 1996, the team selected UCLA offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden in the first round and that move irritated veteran left tackle Tony Jones.

Minutes after the selection, Jones told me he knew what was going on and that when a team selects a player in the first round, it is only a matter of time before he becomes the starter. Ogden played left guard in 1996 before replacing Jones at the start of the 1997 season.


Well, that scenario played out again for the Ravens on Wednesday. The team officially announced rookie Lamar Jackson, taken in the first round, would become the starter and that Joe Flacco, the longtime veteran, would become the top replacement.

The news was not surprising considering the Ravens had gone 3-1 with Jackson as the starter since Flacco went down with a hip injury almost five weeks ago.

Jackson fits the MO of this run-dominated offense right now, and he has had the endorsement of team owner Steve Bisciotti for a long time.

I liked the way Flacco handled himself Wednesday. He was obviously disappointed with the news but handled himself in a professional manner. He didn’t complain about the decision, didn’t whine about losing his job because of injury and didn’t question anything about Jackson’s playing ability.

He basically intimated that he knew this decision would come eventually, and the injury just pushed up the time frame because the Ravens won without him. I’ve criticized Flacco often in the past, especially about some of his performances on the field.

John Harbaugh said at his weekly news conference Monday that “if Joe’s ready to go, he’ll be part of the game plan."

But he never pouted the next day. In fact, he has never showed up any media person because of something that was written or reported about him. He just went to work every day.

I always wanted a quarterback who was more passionate than Flacco and maybe had a stronger work ethic, but Flacco has always been a straightforward, standup guy. No one ever questioned his toughness and he has always been a class guy.

Unless Jackson gets hurt, and there is that chance because he runs so much, we’ve probably seen the last of Flacco until the organization puts him in the Ring of Honor someday. He wasn’t great, but good and can still play at a high level in the NFL given the right opportunity.

As for Jackson, he has great athleticism but there are still questions about his consistency and accuracy as a passer. I have pointed this out several times this season and will do so again. The key word is balance. Every offensive team has to have some semblance of being able to both run and throw, and the Ravens don’t have that with either Flacco or Jackson.

And then there is the lack of playmakers. The Ravens are coached well enough to beat a lot teams in the NFL but they still haven’t proved that they have the alpha males to beat the good teams in crunch time.

They never found Flacco much help since the 2012 Super Bowl season, and Jackson currently has the same problem.

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