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Ravens dig the long ball, and Flacco is smart when throwing it

Posted By Kris Jones On November 30, 2012 @ 11:22 am In Baltimore Ravens,Blog View,NFL | No Comments

Arm strength doesn’t necessarily make you a great quarterback – you’ve got to have the head to go with it. Need proof? Look no further than Kyle Boller.

In the 2003 NFL Draft, the Ravens traded their second-round pick and first-rounder in 2004 to select Boller (ouch). Many praised the former California quarterback as he was famously able to throw a football 60 yards through the uprights from his knees.

Simply put, we all know how the Kyle Boller experiment worked out.

The Ravens now have another big arm. Current ESPN analyst and former quarterback Ron Jaworski claimed that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had the strongest arm in the NFL prior to the season but Flacco is showing he has the smarts as well.

Flacco’s long completion stats have been padded at times – just reference Torrey Smith’s 54-yard gain or Ray Rice’s miracle fourth-and-29 play from last week in San Diego as both players caught the ball three yards in front of the line of scrimmage – but for the most part, Flacco has been making big plays with his arm (and his head).

The following numbers are from Pro Football Focus [1], and are based on only throws that travel 20 or more yards IN THE AIR.

Thus far, through 11 games, Flacco is the only quarterback to have not been intercepted on a pass of 20 yards or more. His 26 completions of 20+ yards this season ties him with Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck for the most in the league.

Flacco’s 26 completions have come on 76 attempts (38.6%), totaling 799 yards and seven touchdowns.

Last season (including the playoffs), Flacco completed 22 of his 79 attempts (34.2%) for 716 yards with 8 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

These stats show that the frequency of targeting downfield is more prevalent in this current Ravens offense and the addition of Jacoby Jones and maturation of Torrey Smith has the Ravens stretching the field more often.

Last season, 14.6 percent of Flacco’s attempted throws were of 20 yards or more, whereas that number has already increased to 17.4 percent.

Given that deep passes have a lower success rate, it’s promising to see that Flacco has been wise while targeting receivers downfield. Having not been intercepted all season on these throws makes it more tolerable if Flacco overthrows a receiver, as he did with Dennis Pitta down the middle of the field against San Diego.


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[1] Pro Football Focus: http://www.profootballfocus.com