Whether you are a fan or not everyone can agree on one thing when it comes to Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco – he’s one tough player.
During the course of his very successful 5+ years in the NFL, Flacco has taken the field every single game day. He has started 107 consecutive games (including 13 post season starts) and he’s never missed a single snap due to injury.
Given his willingness to stand in the pocket, his tall and lanky frame, predictable play calling and an offensive line that at times has been a sieve in pass protection, that is quite an impressive accomplishment.
Flacco is also resilient. He brushes off criticisms, seemingly never disconnected from an unflappable confidence and he just keeps plowing ahead undaunted by stats that suggest he is just slightly above average.
The only stat that apparently matters to the big-armed gunslinger is wins.
And he just keeps winning even when the odds are stacked against him.
No running game – no problem.
Inexperienced receivers – no worries.
Flacco just wants the ball, a chance to work on the flaws and as he so often says after a defeat, “We just need to get better.”
And Joe the Quarterback could start with the man in the mirror.
Since his rookie season Flacco has often predetermined where he’s going with the football. The bad habit could be the result of the very controlled environment that former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron created that left the quarterback with few options despite the dynamic conditions on the playing field pre and post snap. Maybe those habits are hard to break.
During this 1st quarter play while facing a 3rd and 4, Flacco is flushed out of the pocket but buys time to throw by rolling out to his right. He opts for Torrey Smith on a short crossing route that falls short of the sticks. Meanwhile, take a look at Dennis Pitta all alone at the 42 within Flacco’s sight lines.
In this first down play during the second quarter Flacco opts to throw to Torrey Smith who is tightly covered from behind with some interference in front. Meanwhile Tandon Doss has peeled off after a chip block and is wide open for a play that would have been a win on first down.
Here’s a 3rd and 13 play during which Flacco opts to squeeze in a throw to Marlon Brown who is moving laterally across the field from left to right and beyond the first down marker. The pass is heavily competed for and falls incomplete. At the bottom Flacco could have dumped down to Bernard Pierce and with a block from Torrey Smith or a missed tackle Pierce could have moved the sticks.
At the top of the picture is Jacoby Jones who gets by the corner and Flacco has ample space to get the throw in before the safety rolls over in support.
On this 3rd and 6 throw Flacco opts for Jacoby Jones running a post-corner. All other receivers are well covered except Pierce who leaked out of the backfield and seemingly has no one assigned to him and could have easily converted the third down play and possibly a lot more.
Following the Daryl Smith interception the Ravens try and go for the jugular on the ensuing play. The attempt surprised no one wearing blue jerseys. Flacco goes with the primary read, perhaps a predetermined one, and throws it up to Torrey Smith down the left sideline. The corner eventually gets roll over coverage from the safety and by the time the ball lands, the play had little hope.
Meanwhile Marlon Brown is running a crosser without competition and it presents an opportunity for significant YAC provided Flacco hits Brown in stride. Something Flacco didn’t do in this toss to Smith below.
Flacco makes the proper read here and throws to a wide open Smith at the Ravens 45. The play has the potential to be a significant one until Flacco throws behind his receiver, breaking his stride and with it the opportunity for YAC.
Things are moving in the right direction for the Ravens but there’s plenty of room for improvement, Flacco obviously included. If the Ravens are going to make it to the post season and be a threat when they arrive at the January dance, Flacco will need to be more consistent and make better reads, particularly with a running game that ranks dead last in the league in yards per carry (3.0) and an offense that ranks 28th in red zone scoring (TD’s) and 30th over the last 3 games.