Now Flacco hasn’t had a stellar effort after his first two starts despite favorable draws against the NFL’s 23rd (Browns) and 24th (Bengals) ranked defenses, both of which were played at M&T Bank Stadium. Despite these rather anemic defensive opponents, Flacco is still looking for his first touchdown pass of the season.
On Sunday he threw into a large crowd of Browns surrounding his intended receiver Todd Heap only to be intercepted by former Terrapin D’Qwell Jackson. He was nearly picked off by Browns’ defensive lineman Corey Williams on a poorly executed screen pass and he heaved a desperation pass to Derrick Mason on a very slow developing flea flicker that left Brian Billick out there somewhere thinking, “Now that’s exactly why that play clearly falls outside the parameters of the Ravens offensive core competencies.”
So why the excitement about the rookie quarterback?
Well for one, he carries himself like a seasoned veteran and he possesses poise well beyond his years. Flacco brings a blue collar approach to the position and those in and around the team are extremely impressed by the former Delaware Blue Hen’s work ethic. He studies Cam Cameron’s playbook religiously. He watches game tape hours upon hours and he believes there is not a single part of his game that he can’t improve.
That isn’t to suggest that his game is bad – quite the contrary. But what it does suggest is that Flacco expects a lot from himself and that he is continually looking to refine his craft. When skill, intelligence, poise and a work ethic come together in a young quarterback and there is a capable set of coaches nearby to help orchestrate this equivalent of a quarterback’s perfect storm, then the league better look out.
Flacco already executes many of the little things that nearly always seemed to escape Ravens’ quarterbacks coached by Brian Billick. He shows a keen sense of clock management and uses it to his advantage. He either moves his unit quickly to the line of scrimmage allowing time for pre-snap reads and offensive adjustments or he milks time off the clock to weaken the opponent’s chances for a comeback.
Ball handling is clearly a strength of Flacco’s and that provides a host of advantages for the Ravens. He smoothly fakes to his backs on both running plays and play action pass plays. This forces a defense to hesitate and think and when a quarterback can do that consistently, it slows a defense down paving the way for separation and eventually opportunities to convert big plays.
Other than his 38 yard run against the Bengals, Flacco really hasn’t hit on a big play yet even the casual observer would agree that it’s just a matter of time. That big arm, his ability to feel pressure, step up in the pocket, reset his feet and square his shoulders when given ample time to throw and that icy calm demeanor are all characteristics of a great quarterback in the making.
Flacco has a long way to go and he’ll get his first true test against the league’s second ranked defense on the road on Monday Night Football in Pittsburgh – a stiff challenge even for the best and most decorated NFL quarterbacks.
The rookie will have his struggles and there will be times when the burgeoning love affair between the city of