Brunner on Flacco: “He was very calm and relaxed”

Street Talk Brunner on Flacco: “He was very calm and relaxed”

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OWINGS MILLS — Before the Baltimore Ravens drafted rookie quarterback Joe Flacco in the first round, he had some extra tutoring assistance to prepare himself for the rigors of the NFL.

Former New York Giants quarterback Scott Brunner trains high school and collegiate quarterbacks at the






, and Flacco is one of his star pupils. 

Both Brunner and Flacco, who was installed as the starter by default due to Kyle Boller’s shoulder injury and Troy Smith’s tonsil infection, are former



Brunner is a former backup to Giants quarterback Phil Simms and Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway. He passed for 6,457 yards, 29 touchdowns and 54 interceptions in five NFL seasons.

In the wake of Flacco making his debut in a 17-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals where he completed 15 of 29 passes for 129 yards, no interceptions and a 38-yard touchdown run, discussed Flacco’s development with Brunner.

PF24X7: What’s your take on Flacco’s first start?

Brunner: I think the plan was for him to watch for at least a few games, but that didn’t happen because of the circumstances with the other quarterbacks so there was no other option. And he took advantage of a great opportunity and really accounted for himself very well.

"He didn’t light the world on fire as a young quarterback, but he didn’t turn the ball over and he managed the game. When I talked to him after the game, he was really excited and telling stories about the different plays. He really embraced the whole situation and environment. I thought he did a pretty good job overall."

PF24X7: What are Flacco’s biggest strengths at this point of his development?

Brunner: "I think his temperament is a great quality that suits him very well going into a pressure-packed situation. He was very calm and relaxed even in the face of pressure. His physical ability is well-documented.

"He has a great release with a lot of velocity on the ball. His vision is underrated a little bit. He’s able to look at a defense and make great decisions and find the proper receiver. When it wasn’t there, he didn’t force anything, which had to be encouraging."

PF24X7: What are some of the biggest challenges for Flacco as a rookie?

Brunner: "To a degree, adjusting to the speed of the game is overrated. You pick up the speed pretty quickly if you have the physical ability. You get right into the pace of the game. The hardest thing for a young guy is not the speed of the game, it’s the speed of the decisions you have to make.

"Cam Cameron did a great job of putting together a beautiful game plan to make sure Joe was comfortable in his reads and getting rid of the ball. The fact that they were able to run the ball was huge."

PF24X7: How does Flacco’s low-key personality affect his adjustment?

Brunner: "All they care about in the NFL is if you make plays on Sunday. There’s guys who talk and guys who are quiet. At the end of the day, they respect the guys who make plays and help them win. Some people think you have to have a rah-rah guy at quarterback. Clearly, that’s not necessarily the case. Look at Eli Manning. He has a very similar demeanor to Joe.

"There’s all kinds of leadership styles. It’s more important to be yourself. I think his mom and dad, Karen and Steve, are well-grounded and they keep him well grounded. He doesn’t get too big for his britches. They did a great job of raising him."

PF24X7: How would you rate his arm strength?

Brunner: "During the offseason, I watched a lot of guys and his delivery is as close to a Dan Marino delivery as I’ve seen in 20 years. He probably throws a tighter ball than Marino, who was a little bit loose. The quickness of his delivery and his arm strength, there’s a lot of rotation there. He gets the ball into a throwing motion kind of like a golf swing.

"He clears his lower body out and there’s a lag with his upper body. It doesn’t look like a lot, but the ball comes out with a lot of velocity. It’s something he developed as a baseball player when he was younger. As a 6-foot-6 quarterback, he combines that with arm strength and flexibility with that motion."

PF24X7: How would you rate him as an athlete?

Brunner: "He’s going to need to beef up a little bit in the weight room to protect himself from this brutal game, but he’s already got great footwork, good balance and a good base underneath him even when he appears to be off-balance. He creates a lot of velocity on the ball with a very short stride.

"I think he was stereotyped as a big quarterback and people thought he couldn’t move that much, but he’s much more athletic than people give him credit for. Not only with the combine numbers and having the fastest three-cone drill, but how he moves in the pocket. You saw how he can get down the field. He did it without thinking, which is what you strive for."

PF24X7: Where does his power come from in his throwing motion?

Brunner: "Joe’s got that great release and that strong arm. His delivery is so efficient. He gets a lot of torque from his hips. We went to the Senior Bowl and I heard many scouts say, ‘There’s really only one NFL arm on the field,’ and that’s Joe.

"Joe has a simple motion with not a lot of moving parts. He opens his hips, turns and releases to the target. He keeps that tight motion simple and efficient, and that generates a lot of power and accuracy."

PF24X7: What kind of growing pains do you expect him to experience?

Brunner: "It will be interesting to see how he responds to adversity and how he grows from this. Everything will not be smooth and peachy. There will be a few interceptions and all those ‘Let’s Go Flacco’s’ will turn to boos, and he’ll deal with it.

“All those college experiences helped him along the way and I think he’s gone down to

with a lot of confidence."

Aaron Wilson covers the
Baltimore Ravens for the
County Times and the


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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and 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 Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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