Ravens Lose Joe Flacco, Justin Forsett For Season

It’s been a brutal 2015 NFL season for the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore came into week 11 with very faint AFC wild card playoff hopes, despite losing star wide receiver Steve Smith and pass rusher Terrell Suggs for the year. They had also lost numerous tight games by seven points or less, yet still crawled into this week’s matchup at home against the Rams with a slim shot at chasing down a wild card spot.

Even with a nice week 11 win, the Ravens can probably kiss the playoffs good-bye. Any chance Baltimore still had of making a playoff run exited with major season-ending injuries to both franchise passer Joe Flacco and star running back Justin Forsett. Forsett reportedly suffered two broken bones in his arm on a brutal hit and immediately exited the game. The news was delivered shortly after that his season was likely over. Flacco lasted until the very end, as he led the Ravens down the field to set up Justin Tucker’s game-winning field goal. Flacco was barely able to put any weight on the damaged knee, but was still a key piece in helping the Ravens get their third win of the season.

Both players are firmly expected to be placed on season-ending injured reserve, while Flacco is said to have a torn ACL and could also have damage to his MCL. Matt Schaub is first in line to replace Flacco under center, and provided he fares well enough, he should finish the year as the team’s starting quarterback. Schaub was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons but is best known for some productive years in Houston, before he began regressing. Schaub spent 2014 with the Oakland Raiders but was unable to win the starting job from rookie passer, Derek Carr. A lifeless arm with clear disinterest in remaining a high level player, Schaub seeing more than spot duty is bad news for Baltimore’s offense.

With Schaub being a shaky backup plan on the surface, a lot of pressure falls on the Ravens’ porous defense and the running game. Losing Forsett is big, but not nearly as big as losing Flacco, who had turned into a turnover machine in 2015 but was at least somewhat stable. Javorious Allen has shown well in spurts as a rookie and figures to be the main man in the offensive backfield with Forsett now sidelined. He could be in line for 20+ total touches as the Ravens lead heavily on their ground game and try to ask as little out of Schaub as possible.

In other words, none of this is great news. Allen is a solid replacement at running back, but he’s inexperienced and definitely not as versatile or as explosive as Forsett was. Schaub is a severe drop-off from Flacco and considering a Super Bowl-winning quarterback could barely keep things together in Baltimore’s depleted air attack, it’s extremely unlikely the dead-armed Schaub will fare much better.

No one is saying the Ravens were set to run the table and make the playoffs at 9-7, but a win in week 11 was a positive step forward for a team struggling to finish close contests all year. Baltimore also had yet to be mathematically eliminated for the running, as just the Steelers (6-4) had more than five wins and were ahead of them. That meant if the Ravens could get hot and the likes of the Chiefs, Raiders, Jets, Bills, Jaguars, Dolphins, Colts and Texans could struggle down the stretch, they’d have a little hope.

That’s no longer the case with Schaub under center. The Ravens will still compete just because John Harbaugh is too good of a coach to let his team completely unravel, but it’s not crazy to imagine the Ravens losing out afte these two huge injuries. Needless to say, betting against the Ravens starting now just got fun. Actually, it already was a pretty successful angle, but now a Ravens loss becomes even more plausible. Baltimore will try to keep it together next Monday night, when they take on Johnny Manziel and the Browns. They could be mild favorites, but they by no means will be locks to win.


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