Head coach Vic Fangio confirmed the injury on Monday, per Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic, though at the time didn't offer a timetable for Flacco's return beyond saying that he would miss Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns.
Flacco told Jeff Legwold of ESPN that the injury may have first occurred two weeks ago:
Los Angeles professor of orthopaedic surgery, Dr. Neel Anand, who also serves as the director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center, told Jhabvala that most herniated disks heal in three to six weeks:
"In general, most patients in six weeks tend to get better. It all depends on how bad it is, where it is and what it's doing. Most of the time it does not need surgery. They do tend to get better a lot on their own, but it takes time to get better. Now, if he has some neurological damage and truly has a problem with the disk, then surgery may be recommended."
That leaves the 2-6 Broncos with some decisions to make at quarterback. Brandon Allen is likely to move into the starting position, with undrafted rookie Brett Rypien a possibility at backup if the Broncos decide to promote him from the practice squad.
The team could also activate Drew Lock off of injured reserve:
It's been a tough week for the Broncos. After losing to the Indianapolis Colts, 15-13, on a 51-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri with 22 seconds remaining, Flacco was critical of the team's lack of aggression with a chance to secure the win, per 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."
Now, the Broncos will have to adjust to life without Flacco, perhaps for an extended period of time.