Since the day Joe Flacco was drafted by Baltimore, fans awaited change. 11 years later in Week 11 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, fans booed Flacco and Baltimore’s offense. Just on Sunday, Lamar Jackson was booed and Flacco chants rained down from the stands.
The boos are emblematic of Baltimore’s fan base.
It’s been that way for years now. Maybe it may not just be Baltimore, but in every major sports city with two capable quarterbacks. It was a similar situation to every person who backed up Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia — Jeff Garcia, A.J. Feely, Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick. The starter’s head will be called for and the backup will be elevated to godhood.
At least, that’s how it felt on Sunday. Jackson had a 0.0 passer rating during the middle of the fourth quarter, completing only three of his first 10 passes with an interception. It’s always a call for the guillotine, even if the starter assisted them on getting to the playoffs with a 6-1 regular season record.
Of course, multiple players were upset about the ordeal.
“So I am standing there on the sideline, and they’re chanting [Joe] Flacco’s name, and I am like, ‘What’s up with that?’, Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith said. “They’re booing the guy that got us here. Are you a fair-weather fan that quickly? They turned their backs on him, and that got under my skin a little bit.”
During Jackson’s hot start, he passed for 1,201 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions and ran for 695 yards and five touchdowns. His 84.5 passer rating was slightly higher than Flacco’s (84.1) in 2018, but the added threat of running the ball gave Jackson an edge in the Marty Mornhinweg-Greg Roman offense.
It’s understandable for fans to want a better on-field product. They received that after a 4-5 start, but they turned on one of the major catalysts of the subsequent turnaround.
Fans would blame Flacco for the majority of the team’s shortcomings as well. They would discuss his perceived “lack of enthusiasm” for the game or how he wouldn’t go over plays on the sidelines or throw during the offseason. Everything was somehow Flacco’s fault. They prayed and prayed for a new quarterback and when their prayers were finally answered, they reneged and begged Flacco for forgiveness.
Some players try not to take the boos to heart, but they feel more comfortable playing on the road for a more subdued fan response. Marlon Humphrey is one of those players.
“Fans don’t really necessarily bother me, but it’s definitely always interesting when you’re getting booed in your home stadium,” Humphrey said. “That’s why I’ve always liked away games — you don’t get boos, whether you do good or you do bad. But it’s definitely different when you’re getting booed in your own stadium, a playoff game.
“After last week, it was electric and all year you hear is ‘Aw’ you’re hearing something about Joe [Flacco] all year early on. ‘Aw boo’ or whatever ‘take Joe out’ and yesterday it seemed like you were hearing ‘Joe’ chants and stuff like that. It’s pretty interesting to me how it seemed like the narrative switched pretty quick.”
It’s typical that Ravens fans have handled the loss in this manner. This is the same fan base that cheered Kyle Boller for getting injured during a game against the Indianapolis Colts in 2005. This is also the same fan base that booed Breshad Perriman when he returned to Baltimore with the Browns. Remember, this is the same fan base that stopped showing up to games in 2017 for “disrespecting the flag”.
Let’s call a spade a spade — this is who represents the Ravens fan base. Fair or unfair, it’s an ugly stain on how others view the fans of this organization. It may be one thing to boo a team that didn’t make the postseason or a struggling organization in general, but fans in Baltimore booed a division-winning team that was within a touchdown.
“It definitely bothered me — as a football player, as an athlete, competitor — we’ve sacrificed our whole lives to be in this position,” said left tackle Ronnie Stanley. “We love our fans and everything that they have done for us, but there are going to be good times, there are going to be bad times and we expect your support in all of those times. If you’re not going to support us, you really have to question yourself on that one.”
Congratulations, you booed a rookie quarterback who has just eight NFL starts under his belt. At least give the 22-year old a chance before ripping his play to shreds. He at least helped to bring your favorite team back to playoffs with an old school ground-and-pound gameplan.
If you were booing Mornhinweg’s playcalling, which has been up for debate for seasons now, you’ll probably get a free pass. The players themselves, they willed their way to the playoffs. They feed off of your energy. Give them a little more to work with and enjoy the ride.