At the end of a meaningless win in a miserable season, Joe Flacco had his left knee shredded into cheddar when a backup left tackle rolled into his leg. And like that, Flacco will miss the first game in his career due to injury. His replacement? Matt Schaub. The last non-Flacco quarterback to start a game for the Ravens, all the way back in the final week of a woeful 2007 season? Troy Smith. In fact, save for a single play by punter Sam Koch, Flacco had thrown every pass this season for Baltimore. The cold offseason came early and it came sudden.
Baltimore fans have lots of company in this area. The 49ers — a mere husk of an NFL franchise at this point — lost Colin Kaepernick last week to a torn labrum and his time with San Francisco may be done. The Broncos have been winning all season in spite of Peyton Manning, but now he might be done for the year if Brock Osweiler continues to play like Tall Tim Tebow. Tony Romo is back for Dallas but about eight weeks too late to save that team. In September, Drew Brees missed his first game due to injury in a 15-year career. Ben Roethlisberger and Jay Cutler have also missed chunks of time with various ailments. And Geno Smith was supposed to be the starter for the Jets but a teammate’s right hook effectively shelved his year before it began.
Throw all that in a blender and, well, you’d have the world’s worst milkshake. But toss in the glaringly uncertain situations with Philadelphia, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Kansas City — where you can safely say the franchise quarterback of the future is not currently with said franchise — as well as a weak incoming NCAA draft class and a less-than-inspiring free agent market in 2016 (Kirk Cousins! Ryan Fitzpatrick!), and you have a pretty depressing situation shaping up.