Could this be the end of Joe Flacco‘s career as an NFL starting quarterback?
Not long after Flacco criticized the Denver Broncos‘ conservative play-calling following their 15-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the veteran quarterback has now been ruled out for the team’s Week 9 matchup versus the Cleveland Browns due to a neck injury.
Brandon Allen, who has never started a game or thrown a pass in an NFL game, will start in Week 9 versus the Browns.
Not only is Flacco being ruled out for the Broncos’ next game, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that the 34-year-old quarterback could be placed on injured reserve — and be out for the entire season.
“It is expected to be a long-term thing. The Broncos are still evaluating Joe Flacco’s neck injury, but on the table is injured reserve. That means that Joe Flacco, who the Broncos traded for in the offseason, who has started every game for them, could be out a significant amount of time. Potentially even for the season.
Either way right now preliminarily, they believe it’s going to be a multi-week injury for Joe Flacco. Should miss significant time, which means for the Denver Broncos, they seem to be entering a little bit of a rebuilding mode.
Maybe something where they starting playing the young guys, Brandon Allen starts, Drew Lock is still on IR, could start practicing soon. That would be another person that the Broncos would at least like to take a look at before the season ends.”
Could Broncos Be Leading Into Drew Lock as the Starter?
This could be the Broncos’ way of leading into Lock as the starter. The 22-year-old quarterback was drafted in the second round of this year’s draft with the intention he’d be the franchise quarterback moving forward.
After an impressive preseason, Lock suffered a thumb injury in the team’s third preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers. However, all indications are that Lock is fully recovered health-wise and could actually play backup to Allen this week.
Long story short, Lock could be ready to start in Week 11 against the Minnesota Vikings — after the team’s bye week.
Either way, the Broncos definitely want to see what Lock brings to the table before his rookie season is completely over.
Flacco’s Comments Led to Benching?
While this is pure speculation — and Flacco has acknowledged his neck is dinged up — the timing of Flacco being benched is a peculiar one.
The move comes just hours after Flacco criticizing Rich Scarangello for his offensive play-calling towards the end of the team’s loss to the Colts. In their second-to-last drive, the Broncos had an opportunity to win the game on third-and-five in Colts territory. Instead of opting to pass the ball and gain a first down to win, the team opted to run and punted instead.
The Colts went onto to nail the game-winning field goal on their next drive.
Here are Flacco’s comments following the game, via The Denver Post.
“We’re now a 2-6 football team and we’re like afraid to go for it in a two-minute drill, you know? Like, who cares if you give the ball back to the guys with a minute and 40 seconds left. They obviously got the field goal anyway.
“And once again, we’re a 2-6 football team and it just feels like we’re kind of afraid to lose a game. It’s third-and-5 at the end of the game. You know, who cares if they have a timeout there at the end or not. Getting in field goal range isn’t that tough. You’re just putting your defense in these bad situations and I just felt like, ‘What do we have to lose? Why can’t we be aggressive in some of these situations?’ That’s how I felt like in a lot of the game today.”
Luckily for Flacco, he won’t have to worry about the Broncos’ lack of aggressiveness in their play-calling any longer.
Considering Denver holds a team option on his contract for next year, Flacco has likely played in his last game in a Broncos uniform.