John Harbaugh still won’t give up on playing Joe Flacco

Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson has avoided a major ankle injury, but John Harbaugh just won’t give up on the idea Joe Flacco could play.

The Baltimore Ravens had their winning streak end at three on Sunday, with a 27-24 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, and Lamar Jackson is now 3-1 as the starting quarterback.

But during his Monday press conference head coach John  Harbaugh suggested Joe Flacco if healthy, would be “part of the game plan” in Week 15 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Flacco has missed the last four games with a hip injury, but he was nearly active as Jackson’s backup against the Chiefs. Jackson suffered an ankle injury late in the game, but X-rays came back negative and Harbaugh said the rookie signal caller “should be OK.”

Harbaugh did not declare a starter for Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay, but if healthy Jackson should keep the job. There was some very early indication Flacco would see the field against the Chiefs, sharing snaps with Jackson, but ultimately his hip didn’t allow it.

Based on a couple passing metrics, there isn’t much different between Flacco and Jackson this season.

Flacco: 61.2  percent completion rate, 6.5 yards per attempt
Jackson: 58.4 percent completion rate, 6.8 yards per attempt

The primary difference is volume, with Flacco averaging 42.1 pass attempts in his nine starts to Jackson’s average of 22.3 attempts in his four starts.

Then there’s of course what Jackson adds as  a runner, with at least 71 rushing yards in all four of his starts as the Ravens have altered their offensive formula.

Jackson’s running opens him up to injury, and he was inadvertently kicked in the head by one of his lineman in Week 13 and had to be checked for a concussion. Sunday’s ankle injury occurred within the pocket on a sack, but getting banged up in back-to-back games invites concern.

A quarterback rotation is a college concept, and using it as an effort to throw an opponent off at the NFL level is a reach.

The idea of using Jackson and Flacco may intrigue Harbaugh, as Ian Rapoport of NFL Network suggested, but the Ravens have to keep winning games as they try to keep a playoff spot and there’s no room for gimmicks.

Then again, if prior rumors Harbaugh and the Ravens will part after the season are true, the coach may be willing to throw caution to the wind in some respect.

Next: 5 candidates to replace Mike McCarthy as Packers head coach

Harbaugh and Flacco are the second-longest running head coach-quarterback relationship going in the league right now.

But barring a more serious injury to Jackson, Harbaugh is the only one offering any suggestion Flacco can, or even should, play over the final three games of the regular season.

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