Ravens hopes rest on the shoulders of Joe Flacco

AP Photo

When Joe Flacco was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens with the 18th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft the team’s quarterback stable included: Steve McNair, Kyle Boller and Troy Smith.

The plan was to bring Flacco along slowly and if things went the right way, Flacco might assume the starter’s reins sometime midseason.

It didn’t exactly go down that way.

McNair retired. Boller went down with a broken collarbone during the preseason and that left Smith and Flacco. Just prior to the opener Smith contracted an extreme case of tonsillitis leaving the Ravens with no choice other than to turn to their rookie.

Since then Flacco has started 80 consecutive games (good for 3rd best among active QB’s, E. Manning (137), Philip Rivers (107)) and he has thrown 2,221 of the teams 2,247 passing attempts during this span.

So for all those national media guys who fawn over Jay Cutler and heap mounds of praise upon the overrated Bears signal caller and remind us how tough he is, well they better take a look No. 5’s way.

Opposing players certainly do. Count the Texans’ Connor Barwin among his admirers.

“I told Flacco after, I was like ‘that was impressive, you’re still in the game,’ because I hit the (crap) out of him twice, I think he deserves some credit, he played the whole game.”

That said, Flacco could use a little of Cutler’s edginess so he might on occasion ride an offensive line that all too often is like a New Orleans dike trying to contain Mississippi flood waters.

Maybe Flacco’s toughness is taken for granted.

His offensive coordinator rarely spreads the ball. The wide receiver route tree has seemingly been pruned from 9 branches to three. They rarely use misdirection or gadgets or pump fakes or vary formations to keep defenses honest. And their screens passes to tailbacks are as organized as an electric football game.

Come to think of it, the Ravens offense is about as dated as those electric football games.

And here of late Cameron doesn’t want to establish the run – a weak offensive line’s best friend, to help loosen things up in the secondary.

Add it all up and Flacco’s dependability can’t be understated.

Last week on the Ravens Rap, team owner Steve Bisciotti joined us. I reminded him that a few years back towards the end of Brian Billick’s tenure, Bisciotti mentioned that he wanted the club to be managed in a way that allowed the window of opportunity for success to always remain open instead of the up/down, open/shut cycle during the Billick years.

Since John Harbaugh’s arrival, the Ravens have managed to make the playoffs four consecutive seasons. So I asked what he might attribute that to – the organization, scouting, coaching, personnel or all of the above.

“Joe Flacco”, was Bisciotti’s answer.

The stability of good quarterbacking keeps the team steady and that window pried open.

So isn’t that even more reason to protect him?

The Ravens keep tinkering around with an offensive line and they get away with it because Flacco is tough as nails. There’s no Roethlisberger-like drama. Joe just gets up off the deck, dusts himself off and moves on to the next play.

But if the Ravens aren’t careful, Flacco’s understated durability might come crashing down if they don’t improve their play along the offensive front and if their coordinator doesn’t start managing a game they way he’s paid to manage.

And stop playing games with Bryant McKinnie and his contract! Put the man at left tackle; move Michael Oher to right tackle and go with Kelechi Osemele at left guard.

You know, maybe they should all remember that a Ravens team without Flacco will not only cost them a season, it will also cost jobs, particularly if Bisciotti’s window gets slammed shut.

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About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

6 Raves on “Ravens hopes rest on the shoulders of Joe Flacco

  1. JerryB on said:

    Great Blog, TL! Flacco’s durability to date, as well as his success, has been astounding! But, no one can take a constant pounding forever and keep escaping injury! Your suggestions for revamping the OL get seconded here, but I fear that Cam Cameron’s omnipresence as coordinator, who simply lacks the ability to “coordinate” on a consistent basis, is costing valuable time and talent, particularly with regards to Flacco taking that next step! So, a revamped OL will no doubt help, but don’t expect consistency on offense unless or until Cameron is…replaced!

  2. Matt on said:

    I really, really want to like Joe, but I’m having problems with his inconsistency. Of course, I recognize that the O line isn’t doing him any favors, but there are rarely perfect O lines in the NFL. The O line also does not cause passes to get deflected nor interceptions to be thrown. QB is a pressure intensive position. Flacco needs to step up his consistency if he really wants that big paycheck he feels entitled to. Otherwise, I’d prefer we take our chances building.

  3. Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

    Matt, I agree that Flacco’s inconsistencies on the road are frustrating. As for the O-Line not causing deflections, it’s not as simple as your comment suggests. They are in part responsible.

    If Joe is taking a 3-step drop and throwing an out to the short side of the field against man coverage and the O-Line gets pushed back, deflections are bound to happen. The O-Line needs to cut block to create a throwing lane or the punch in their block needs to be directed towards the family jewels of pass rushers. That will keep opponents from leaping up at the LOS. It’s an old proven tried-and-true tactic.

  4. James on said:

    I just don’t see Flacco being consistent enough to win against good teams (defenses) on the road, he hasn’t shown it his whole career, let alone this year. The Ravens will be at a serious cross roads at the end of the year. Will they sign him and start looking for a viable option or will they continue to put faith in him.

  5. Buddy on said:

    Joe has some in-consistencies but over-all he is a top 10 – 12 QB. And they would be a fool not to re-sign Joe Flacco. If he is allowed to test the market he’ll be picked up in days. You’d think the Boller years would had given Ravens fans more insight, but I guess 4 STRAIGHT years in the play-offs with Flacco isn’t proof enough. And don’t give me that the D took us to the play-offs every year, Joe and Ray Rice won a lot of those games.
    The biggest issue I see is a coordinator who uses a play book written 10 years ago. I’m not saying Flacco’s a Ferrari, but he’s a Camaro, so why would you only take it to 40mph. Open up the offense and get creative, and you’ll see Joe and this Offense do better

    • Josh on said:

      Spot on, Buddy. I laugh at those who feel we should let Flacco test the market and look to start all over again at the QB position. I acknowledge he needs to lead better on the road, but the offensive inconsistencies are blatantly a group problem, from the play calling, to the protection issues up front, to receivers not being able to gain separation from physical defensive backs. I appreciate that Cam has helped us appear in the playoffs every year that he and Joe have been here, but it is time to get more creative.

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