LOMBARDI’S WAY: The Ravens finally get it right at quarterback

Lombardi's Way LOMBARDI’S WAY: The Ravens finally get it right at quarterback

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The number 5 is near and dear to the hearts of Baltimoreans thanks to Orioles Hall of Fame third baseman and all-time fan favorite Brooks Robinson.  Yet there’s another player in town with cinco on his back and he like Robinson, might soon work his way into the collective heart of local sports fans.  That no. 5 of course is Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco.


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

and Flacco gets a bit shaky – it’s part of the process.  But all signs point upward for the 18th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and this time it looks like the Ravens front office finally got it right when it comes to the most highlighted position in sports – quarterback.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 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 and he hosts “The Fanimal” also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi.

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