For the first time in eight seasons, the Baltimore Ravens will have to lean on a quarterback not named Joe Flacco.
This after the franchise QB’s season was abruptly ended Sunday when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) – and possibly also sustained some damage to his meniscus – down the stretch of the Ravens’s 16-13 squeaker versus the St. Louis Rams.
Now, Baltimore will hand over the reins to veteran quarterback Matt Schaub.
“I’m absolutely ready,” Schaub said on the Ravens’ website. “If you’re in this business and you’re in this role and you’re not ready and you get called upon, then you’re doing something wrong. I understand that, and I’ve been ready. I just have to go in there and do my job.”
The 34-year-old Schaub came to Baltimore as an “insurance policy” should something happen to Flacco like the one in the game versus the Rams.
Schaub is no stranger to playing the starting role for most of his 12-year career in the National Football League, but after a roller coaster ride in Houston and Oakland, he took the chance to join Baltimore and play back up to one of the league’s most robust quarterbacks.
Flacco has not missed a game his entire career – he even survived through three plays with a torn ACL, but with “Joe Cool” done for the rest of the year, Schaub fills in the work on the first team.
“It was shocking,” Schaub said after learning of Flacco’s injury. “I hate the circumstances that they’re falling under; I hate that for Joe.
“It’s the nature of this game, yes, but at the same time, you hate to see that [happen] to a player that’s done it for such a long time in this business. I’m excited for this opportunity, that’s what I’m here for and that’s what I came here to do. You’re always one play away, and we’re at that point.”
Schaub has not been a starter since 2013 when he was still with the Texans. He played back up to Derek Carr in Oakland last year, but was Houston’s starting QB before that.
As the main man in Houston, he had success throwing more than 4,000 yards in three seasons. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2009 and 2012. Schaub also has in his resume a deep understanding of Baltimore’s offensive system – basically the same scheme he ran back in Houston under then head coach Gary Kubiak.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh believes Schaub is able to carry the team on his back.
“Matt Schaub can play quarterback, and he’s going to come in, and he’s going to play very well,” stated Harbaugh. “Everybody out there can talk about how he can’t – those who want to consider themselves amateur evaluators – they can say what they want. It’s OK, we’ll rally behind Matt.”
Other players inside the locker room are also confident that Schaub can fill in the hole left by Flacco, the 2012 Super Bowl MVP.
Schaub’s teammates also expressed confidence that he can step in for Flacco.
“I’m very comfortable with Matt,” quipped tight end Crockett Gillmore.
“Matt Schaub is a veteran in this league,” defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. “He’s got a cannon for his arm and still has a lot of life left, and he’s going to execute the best he can. We support him 100 percent.”
Schaub has less than a week to further build his rapport with the rest of the offensive guys. Baltimore’s next game is a primetime faceoff with the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football, and Schaub knows the Ravens will be leaning heavily on him.
“It’s kind of a new life, new revival for me,” Schaub said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to go to battle with these guys. I’m just excited to go to work this week.”
Meanwhile, RB Justin Forsett is also done for the season after suffering a broken arm, also in the game against the Rams.