FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Boller Welcomes Flacco

Boller Flacco

In an article originally published on May 2, 2008, just after the Ravens drafted Joe Flacco, the quarterback who Brian Billick believed would become the Ravens franchise quarterback shared his thoughts on the rookie signal caller. 


OWINGS MILLS — The impending arrival of imposing rookie quarterback Joe Flacco is expected to literally cast a large shadow over returning veterans Kyle Boller and Troy Smith.

Nonetheless, the ripple effect of the Baltimore Ravens tabbing Flacco as their quarterback of the future with the 18th overall pick of the first round hasn’t triggered any apparent discontent from his competition.

Even though Flacco’s eventual ascension to the starting job is regarded as inevitable, both Boller and Smith emphasized that they will welcome the big rookie from Delaware during his transition to the NFL.

“I think it’s awesome, I think competition is going to be great for our offense, for our team,” Boller said Friday during a minicamp at the Ravens’ training complex. “I’m happy to have Joe here. I’m sure I’ll be able to help him out.

“We’re all in this together. We’re all going to try to do everything we can to lead this offense and to score a lot of points this year and hopefully win a lot of games.”

For Boller, who learned of Flacco being picked through a text message while playing in a celebrity golf tournament, the fact that Baltimore was looking for a new quarterback wasn’t exactly a foreign concept.

With veteran Steve McNair’s abrupt retirement, Boller’s inconsistent play since being picked in the first round five years ago and Smith having just two career starts, the position was bound to be addressed.

“I was pretty prepared for it, it’s one of those deals,” Boller said. “I was one of those guys five years ago. I’m happy for him. It’s a special time for him, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.
“Whatever I can do to help this team, I’m going to do it. I look forward to having him here, working with him.”

When Flacco joins Boller and Smith on the field next Friday at a mandatory full-team minicamp, the competition for the starting job will begin to emerge.

However, the biggest immediate challenge for all three candidates is absorbing the intricacies of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s playbook.

“It’s Troy against Troy and Troy against operating our offense, and Kyle against Kyle and Kyle against operating our offense,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “And it’s going to be Joe against Joe next week. That’s where we’re at right now.”

Smith won the Heisman Trophy at Ohio State and displayed flashes of potential last season that were encouraging to the locker room and the fan base.

Competing with Flacco, though, is a different situation altogether because of his blend of size (6-foot-6, 235 pounds) arm strength (75-yard spirals) and the large investment the Ravens have made in him.

Most of the Ravens, including Boller and Smith, seem unfamiliar with Flacco with the exception of wide receiver Mark Clayton watching him excel in a college football skills competition.

“He threw the ball a long way,” Clayton said.

From Smith’s standpoint, all he can control is how he plays and conducts himself.

“I can’t do anything about that, the organization has made a decision to go that route and I think it’s a good one,” said Smith, who initially called the newcomer John Flacco. “There’s no doubt in my mind that if the chance comes, Joe Flacco is going to be a good quarterback.”

With a distinct competitive streak, Smith, a fifth-round pick last year, isn’t going to concede anything to Flacco.

“I wouldn’t say I’m an underdog in any way,” Smith said.

Harbaugh has made it clear that he won’t hesitate to play Flacco if he feels like he’s progressing quickly enough. Gauging his readiness as well as determining whether Boller or Smith gives the team its best chance to win are the biggest factors involved.

There’s also the 20-20 hindsight from how Boller struggled as a rookie starter under former coach Brian Billick. Even Boller questions the wisdom of being inserted so quickly.

“I just don’t think I was ready to be playing,” Boller said. “Every guy’s situation is different. If it was me, I’d rather learn, but, at the same time, you want to play. There’s a lot of things I learned from starting, being thrown in there and adjusting and adapting. Some of the toughest times help you out.

“There was part of me that doubted I was ready, but I was 21 and ready to go. I felt like I was ready at the time, but knowing defenses now and just learning this offense, there’s a lot to learn, but I’m not going to say you can’t do it.”

For Boller and Smith, part of their job is mentoring Flacco, just as they used to receive counsel from McNair.

“I’m going to have to,” Smith said when asked about helping Flacco. “That’s where we excel as quarterbacks, having an understanding that we have to help the next guy.”

At some point, the Ravens must commit to one quarterback as their starter because it’s such a critical leadership position.

“That is important, but, at this point, everyone is kind of the same,” Clayton said. “It’s a new system, and it’s not an easy system by any means. We have all training camp to establish a starter.”

Harbaugh said he isn’t predisposed toward any particular quarterback, but acknowledged that the Ravens have some incentive for wanting Flacco to realize the potential that prompted general manager Ozzie Newsome to trade up eight spots in the first round to acquire him.

“The quarterback of the future is going to be whoever gives us the best chance to win games,” Harbaugh said. “To say anything else or assume anything else, that would be a mistake except for the fact that when you have a first-round draft pick coming in here, that’s the expectation for him.

“We drafted him because we believe he can be that guy. If he’s going to be that guy, that’s up to him. We’ll find out.”

This entry was posted in Blog View, Featured, Flashback Fridays by Aaron Wilson. Bookmark the permalink.

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson
Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best...more

10 Raves on “FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Boller Welcomes Flacco

  1. Rob on said:

    I thought Aaron Wilson left the Carroll County Times for the Baltimore Sun over a year ago? Maybe it’s time to update his bio…

  2. Rinn13 on said:

    It’s funny, so many classless Bmore fans trash Boller unmercifully to this day, yet you read articles like this, he was ALWAYS a class guy and a class act, taking his misfortune gracefully. We’re talking about the same Baltimore fanbase that cheered when he got hurt in 2005. Cheered their own player, their own QB, getting hurt. Truth of the matter is, Boller had issues, but Flacco, for all that he is played up, has, right up until last year, six seasons into his career, also STILL shares many of those same issues. And the fact of the matter is, Boller might very well have been successful as a Ravens QB, if Ozzie and the front office had bothered building him a better Oline and offense in those early years where he was actually a starter. Outside of Jamal Lewis, Jon Ogden, and Todd Heap, in 03 and 04, he had nothing else to work with. And in 04, his only full, healthy season, he didn’t even have Jamal and Heap for the entire season. If he had good pass protection (he was one of the most sacked QBs of his era) and some actual receivers before 2005 (in which he spent half the season injured due to a horrible oline), who knows how good he might have been.

    Flacco deserves all the credit in the world for the good things he has accomplished. But on the other side of that coin, with the issues he himself still has to this day (staring down receivers, standing in the pocket too long, not moving around in the pocket nearly enough, throwing picks into multiple coverage, etc.), it’s hard to imagine Joe having much more success than Kyle did, if he had to deal with the same circumstances long-term. If Joe had to deal with an oline as bad as last years, for his whole career here? Yeah….he would not have lasted.

  3. Anonymous on said:

    Your kidding right? Boller had a top 5 running game and top 6 defense just about every year he was under center. If Ozzie had built him a decent OLINE??? He played behind lines with names like Ogden, Muitalo, Rabach, Zeus. Same O line that a Steve McNair at the end of his career managed to go 13-3 with. Boller would trip over his own feet back pedaling from center.

  4. Richard on said:

    Ah, C’mon… I tried to rationalize Boller as a NFL player for years… after all, he was ours, right?
    Truth is, he was anything but… I can admit it now… couldn’t then. Now that we have a real NFL QB, not saying he is elite, but he IS a real NFL QB… Boller was not. ‘Svery simple. he just wasn’t. Classy guy, for sure. NFL QB?… not so much

    • Sarcasticfury on said:

      Why is it that when we get busts they can’t be the Ryan Leaf types, why do they have to be like able ones that just suck?

  5. BmoreB on said:

    Boller sucked and sucked big time. I wanted more than anything for him to be our QB for the long haul because of his personality. His heart was in the right place, very up beat, competitive and just all around a very likeable guy. He sucked at being a QB though and I couldn’t admit that, much like Richard above.

    In the end, Boller made out just fine. Pocketed a few mil, played QB in the NFL for several years and wound up with one seriously smoking hot wife. He deserved everything he got, except the boos.

  6. Kevin on said:

    I remember want to run on the field and break” Kyle should have been a bowler’s” legs
    It was so painful to watch him play.

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