What if something happens to Flacco?

What if something happens to Flacco?
May 24, 2013, 8:45 am
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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) and quarterback Tyrod Taylor (2) walk to the field before the start of the AFC championship game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

(Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports)

Joe Flacco has never missed a start since joining the Ravens. So what happens if something happens to Flacco?

The competition between Tyrod Taylor and Caleb Hanie to be the Ravens’ No. 2 quarterback will play out through minicamps and training camp. Taylor has been Flacco’s backup the past two seasons, but the Ravens signed Hanie in April, giving him a chance to earn a roster spot.

Life without Flacco is something the Ravens hope to avoid again in 2013.  The Ravens’ backup quarterback has not been pressed into service since Flacco arrived in 2008, thanks to his durability and good fortune.  In fact, Ravens coach John Harbaugh only carried two quarterbacks on the roster last season.

However, if Flacco suffered even a short-term injury, having a backup that could play well enough to win games would become vitally important. Look at the Redskins last season, when backup quarterback Kirk Cousins played a key role in helping them make the playoffs. After Robert Griffin III suffered a fourth-quarter knee injury against the Ravens in Week 14, Cousins threw a touchdown pass and scored on a two-point conversion to force overtime, and the Redskins eventually won, 31-28. The next week Cousins started, and threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Redskins to a 38-21 victory over the Browns.

Neither Taylor nor Hanie have proven they can flourish if Flacco went down. Taylor saw his most extensive regular-season duty against the Bengals in Week 17 last year, after the Ravens had already clinched a playoff spot.  Taylor completed 15 of 25 attempts for 149 yards and an interception during a 23-17 loss.

Hanie didn’t take a snap for the Broncos last season, but he played with the Bears from 2008-11 and made four starts. Hanie is best known for his appearance in the 2010 NFC championship game, when he was unexpectedly thrown into the fire after both Jay Cutler and Todd Collins were injured. Hanie threw two touchdown passes in that game, but he also threw two interceptions as the Bears lost to the Packers, 21-14.

When Cutler was injured again in 2011, Hanie made four starts, and the Bears lost all four. They failed to make the playoffs, and the Bears sent Hanie packing.

Now Hanie will get a chance with the Ravens, while Taylor tries to lock down the backup spot again. Meanwhile, the Ravens will hope that Flacco gets through another season unscathed, and that his backup is seen, but not needed.