Through two games, there has been plenty of blame to go around for the Baltimore Ravens’ two losses.
The lack of any sort of pass rush against the Oakland Raiders, a head-scratching game plan in pass defense by Dean Pees and an inconsistent offensive line are just a few of the team’s issues. But on offense, one downfall that has stood out in both games has been the unnecessarily poor mechanics by quarterback Joe Flacco.
This problem is far from new. In both 2015 match-ups, Flacco’s iffy mechanics have resulted in missed opportunities.
Having an incompetent offensive line during the season opener against the Denver Broncos made the poor mechanics a bit more acceptable, but against Oakland, Flacco had ample time in clean pockets, and still resorted to unwarranted mechanics issues.
How Flacco’s Mechanics Have Limited the Offense
In the season opener, down six points, Flacco was hitting on all cylinders on the final drive. He was standing tall in the pocket, making decisive throws and moving the offense.
But when the Ravens could least afford for Flacco to slip up, he resorted to his old tendencies, costing the Ravens a chance at stealing a win in Denver.
Driving deep in Denver territory, Flacco gets an ideal matchup as tight end Crockett Gillmore finds an opening down the seam.
Given the immense space ahead of Gillmore, this is the epitome of an ideal scenario for the Ravens. Gillmore beats his man downfield for what should be an easy touchdown with no defenders ahead of him.
Notice Broncos safety Darian Stewart (yes, THAT Darian Stewart!) is several yards from the play with the ball in the air.
The pocket is ideal, but Flacco’s release is not.
His feet are flat, he is falling backwards despite plenty of space in front of him, and as expected the ball is underthrown:
Needless to say, a decision as simple as stepping into his throw would have allowed Flacco to place the ball where only Gillmore could catch it, and potentially give the Ravens a season-opening victory.
Unfortunately for the Baltimore offense, this occurred in game two as well.
One infamous play occurred in the first quarter, when Flacco had a dream scenario with wide receiver Kamar Aiken downfield.
With a clean pocket and desirable space in front of him, Flacco decides to shorten his front step, failing to take advantage of the chance to step into his throw.
Flacco makes the easy decision to throw to Kamar Aiken. Calling him wide open would be an understatement.
With a player this wide open downfield and a quarterback with an arm as strong as Flacco’s, there is simply no excuse not to score a touchdown on this play.
However, Flacco’s laziness and overconfidence in his arm strength leads to an underthrown ball, leading to an incomplete pass.
Again, had Flacco merely stepped into his throw, this would have been an easy six points.
Later in the game, Flacco has yet another chance to execute on a long touchdown opportunity, but the end result is underwhelming (again).
With a crisp and clean pocket, Flacco locks in on wide receiver Darren Waller, who is running deep down the sideline.
But as Flacco gears up to throw, he again fails to capitalize on the pocket in front of him, opting to fall back and throw a floater up in the air.
What exactly IS Flacco doing here? This again appears to be overconfidence in his arm strength, as he seems to attempt to counter his poor mechanics with his arm.
With Waller open deep, a quality throw would likely net a touchdown.
Alas, Flacco spurns the open field ahead of Waller, rather throwing a weak pass that falls short of a reaching Waller.
Easy pitch-and-catches do not come this often in the NFL, and Flacco failed to execute on these prime chances against the Raiders. Had Flacco stepped into his throw, Waller would have likely recorded his first career NFL reception (and touchdown).
At 0-2 with little room for error as the 2-0 Cincinnati Bengals come to town, Flacco must execute his footwork more consistently on Sunday.
Posting 384 passing yards against the Raiders is great, but if Flacco misses these opportunities against better teams, wins will be hard to come by for the Ravens.
Flacco has proven in the past that he can go through consistent stretches in terms of quality footwork and stepping into his throws, and the Ravens offense desperately needs Flacco to flip the footwork switch to “ON” soon.