Now It’s Up to You, Joe

Flacco podium

From the time the season ended it was clear what the Ravens’ priorities were. One of the biggest was surrounding their franchise quarterback with more protection and playmakers.

The offensive line is a fluid situation, but several questions have already been answered. Right tackle is the only spot that doesn’t have a clear-cut answer at this point. And yes, injuries can happen in the preseason, and while it wouldn’t be ideal they have two starters from last year waiting to get their shot to redeem themselves.

Even before the addition of Owen Daniels the Ravens have arguably their deepest group of pass catchers in team history.

A legitimate deep threat in Torrey Smith, an elite tight end in Dennis Pitta and a proven veteran like Steve Smith provide Joe Flacco with plenty of targets. Add Owen Daniels, Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones to the mix and the Ravens are primed for a solid passing attack in 2014.

Now that Ozzie has stacked the deck for the coaching and staff and his Super Bowl MVP, it comes down to them to translate that to a potent offense on the field.

2014 was not entirely Joe Flacco’s fault, let’s make that clear immediately. He had a porous offensive line and no one who really threatened defenses with the exception of Torrey. Take Smith out of the game and opposing defenses normally had their way. The result of that was only scoring 30 points once all season.

But, some of it did come down to Flacco. There were some poor decisions and some missed touchdowns on under thrown balls. You don’t throw five interceptions in a game like he did in Buffalo, without making some mistakes.  It wasn’t all his fault, but to say none of it was is false.

Regardless, 2014 brings new hope. Additions to the line, a healthy Dennis Pitta and a handful of new playmakers. Flacco has been surrounded with the tools he needs.  The protection, while still a work in progress, has been upgraded.

It is now up to Joe to show that last year’s down year was mainly the result of not having enough talent around him. And, while no one expects him to always be lights out like he was in the 2012 playoffs, he can consistently come somewhere close to that.

The way Flacco’s contract is structured essentially makes it a three-year deal. With an astronomical cap number in year four of around $29 million, the Ravens will need to renegotiate or sign him to an extension that makes that cap number more manageable. However, if he throws more interceptions than touchdowns with his arsenal of weapons in 2014, the Ravens may begin to re-think their approach.

Do the Ravens want to cut Flacco at any point of his contract? Of course not. The ideal situation for both parties is he plays well, and the Ravens remain consistently competitive and make the playoffs again for the next five years. But, they won’t pay him $29 million dollars, or anywhere near that number if he can’t show that last year his play was the result of a set of bad circumstances.

He now has the weapons around him, and it’s up to him to use them.

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About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones
Ryan Jones is a native of Belair MD and has been a Ravens fan since they came to Baltimore in 1996. He is a co-founder a Ravens Nation North, a group of displaced Ravens fans who get together every week to cheer for their home team. He is married to...more

15 Raves on “Now It’s Up to You, Joe

  1. Ravcolt on said:

    It’s first up to Ozzie to surround Joe with professionals, not a running back with a broken foot or a lineman coming off back surgery. C’mon Oz…

  2. King Dooley on said:

    I totally agree that Flacco has to play well to lead this team to the Super Bowl. But I still think that the Ravens owe it to themselves to give this guy even more weapons. You would have slapped me if I told you shortly after last season was over that the Ravens would fix their offense by signing:
    -35 year old receiver that is 5’9 and had 700yds/4tds last year
    -31 year old tight end that was injured for all but 5 games last year and had 250yds1td
    -trading a 5th rd pick for an average center
    I honestly think the biggest thing for our offense is for KO to be healthy at LG. If he can stay healthy, he could be the driving force for the improvement. Being stout up the gut at the point of attack will be what opens up the offense. The zone running scheme really allows for the offense to plug in a “scrappy” RT who will have help with play action and 3 and 5 step drops.
    I think we really owe it to Joe to see what he can do with a #1 receiver. Someone who can dominate physically and snatch balls out of the air. As much promise as Marlon Brown shows and as tall as he is, he is still a finesse receiver. With the Rams picking up Kenny Britt and the Bills trading for Mike Williams, if somehow Mike Evans starts to drop, we really need to trade up with Chicago to #14 and get him in front of Pittsburgh. Then get another TE to groom under Pitta, Daniels in rd 2,3, or 4. Face it, Steve Smith and Owen Daniels are 1 to 2 year stopgaps to help transition to this new offense and bring a professional attitude to the position meetings.

  3. Chris on said:

    This is a laughable column…
    Our oline…. G- coming off back surgery, no RT … hardly stabalized….
    WR- Torrey cant seperate, Steve Smith is a slot WR at best, and we still have no true #1 WR… we have the worst WR core in the AFCN by far
    RB- One RB who will be suspended and had a career low in all stats… One RB coming off shoulder surgery and a 3rd running back who hasnt even carried the ball 25 times in his career….
    TE- One TE coming off hip surgery…..and No other TE, we might have Dickson back which is WORSE than having no TE….

    NO FS, NO nickel CB

    Yep Joes got it easy this year….

    ?

    • Ryan Jones on said:

      Sorry you find the column laughable, although I’m not sure you read it. No other TE? I’m not sure if you heard but the Ravens signed Owen Daniels. As far as KO’s back goes hes recently been pulling tractor tires while training so I think thats a good sign. As far as FS and Nickel CB goes, you may be right, but I was focusing on the offense. Thank you for taking the time to read it though. Go Ravens!!!

  4. Voice of Reason on said:

    The organization has to do more than sign up castoffs from the Houston Texans. Owen Daniels is 31, almost at the end of his career and Justin Forsett is 28 which is older than Ray Rice. We need young dynamic play makers who can catch short passes and stretch the field. That is what a west coast offense is. all about. We also need to draft offensive lineman who can make deep holes and push the defense off the line. Until these areas are fulfilled, I have to be honest and state that I am not impressed with this offseason.

    • Chris on said:

      But it will clearly be all joes fault again, just ask causual ravens fans or nfl fan of any other team…its always joes fault

  5. Ryan Jones on said:

    Torrey Smith is developing into a legitimate #1 reciever. He had over 1100 yards last year with no one on the other side of the field taking any pressure off of him.
    Steve Smith will have a solid year. He wants to prove to the Panthers that they made a mistake and his motivation will outweigh whatever he’s lost physically, he’s that type of guy. Look at the season Boldin had last year with San Fran. He was motivated to prove the Ravens wrong, same scenario.
    The Ravens wouldn’t have signed Pitta to a 5 year deal if they weren’t completely confident he was 100 percent healthy. Owen Daniels is a year removed from a Pro Bowl season and he’s a low risk high reward type guy who will be a significant upgrade from Dickson.

    The Ravens have a great mix of young talent, guys in their prime and veteran leaders catching passes this year. It’s the deepest group of pass catchers they’ve ever had.

    The line is a work in progress but it’s already significantly upgraded from last year.

    It’s not all on Joe, but he is accoutable as well.

  6. Frank Seitz on said:

    I know it is ancient history for Ravens fans who think the team started with the Tampa Superbowl, but the best WR Corps in Ravens history had Vinny Testaverde as a QB.
    Michael Jackson had 69 receptions with 918 yds and 4 TDs
    Derrick Alexander had 65/1009/9
    Eric Green had 61/605/5
    Jermaine Lewis had 42/648/6

  7. King Dooley on said:

    Sorry Ryan, but Torrey is our #1 by default. Don’t get me wrong, he is awesome and I love him but he would be better suited as a #2. A #1 receiver is someone that can line up man-to-man and dominate. Be physical with corners and you can count on them to create separation on any route.
    And you are way more optimistic about Steve Smith’s and Owen Daniel’s production than I can be at this point. Even if they do have awesome years, they are 1 year rentals. We still need young weapons to groom (and not 4th-7th rounders or undrafted rookie free agents).

    • Ryan Jones on said:

      Hey Dooley
      Thanks for your feedback. I disagree with your opinion on Torrey. I think he’s going to have a huge year now that he has proven talent around him. I think he’s a legit number 1 guy. I am optimistic about Steve Smith and Daniels. I think Steve Smith is a man on a mission and Daniels will mesh very well with Flacco and Pitta on and off the field.

      I do agree that Smith is a rental at two years best and the Ravens still need to draft a receiver in the first couple rounds. But I do think it makes sense because he can still make an impact and can serve as a great mentor to a young rookie receiver.

      The moves they have made make them competitive now, but don’t put them in a poor cap position in future years. That’s why I think it’s been a great off season.

  8. chris on said:

    Torrey would not be a number one receiver on half the teams in the league, hes the best we have but he still cant seperate….. we’ve never had a true number one … mason was the closest we ever had….we still have too many ?

    And joes contract will not be an issue, every qb will sign for iver 120 mil…. esp with the cap going up

  9. Metalsheep on said:

    We won’t trade with the bears, apparently there’s some bad blood from a past trade that they screwed Ozzie on.

  10. Tyler Smith on said:

    We still need to upgrade O line. Draft a tackle so KO can play guard. Joe needs protection more than receivers…always has.

  11. mill on said:

    It is amazing that people are already making excuses. You cannot have top 5 players at every position AND pay Flacco like an elite QB. If he is worth 120 million he could make the weapons he has been given work Brady or Manning would. The Ravens have a very solid core of talent. Tyrod Taylor could throw 22 interceptions for less than 1 million. They don’t need to pay 120 for it. Bottomline Flacco is being payed like an elite player, so he needs to do what elite players do and make it work.

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