Much like many fans, Ravens QB Joe Flacco returns from the bye week after some much needed mental rest. Flacco endured a brutal first half of the season that saw injuries all around him and lead after lead that he provided lost by his defense.
The results through eight games certainly haven’t been what I expected, you expected or even what Joe expected.
As the second half of the 2015 season gets underway on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium against the Jacksonville Jaguars both the defense and offense will look to take it one game at a time. After all with a play here or a stop there, we’re talking about our home team in a completely different manner today.
Those plays/stops didn’t happen though, and now the question is, where do the Ravens go from here? With adversity seemingly staring them in the face in some form each and every week, will they overcome?
By now we know who the defense is and what to expect from them. The secondary remains a leaky faucet which will allow big plays and struggle to get off the field on third down.
The one consistent has been the inconsistent Joe Flacco. On offense, Joe is asked to carry the team despite a group of no-name wideouts. Much like Forrest Gump talking about how life is like a box of chocolates and you never know what you’re going to get, Ravens fans don’t know which Joe Cool they’ll get from one game – or quarter – to the next.
So how much blame does Flacco deserve for the 2-6 record? Some, but he certainly has some valid reasons (or, “excuses” if you prefer) for struggling at times.
With shoddy left tackles (James “turnstile” Hurst, Eugene Monroe), Flacco has been pushed from the pocket on play after play this season. Not exactly what the Ravens brass had in mind with the huge contract given to Monroe, who has been off the field more than he’s been on the field in 2015.
You don’t have to be a film expert to see the toll it’s taken on Joe.
Throwing off his back foot has become a weekly occurrence due to the lack of pass pro. Forcing his throws to receivers who can’t get open has resulted in costly turnovers. Throw in a few touchdown passes that were dropped, and that’s how you end up with six losses by a total of 30 combined points.
The Ravens have been in every game. For every errant throw he’s made, Joe has battled back to put his team into position to win. After all the team boasts the league’s 10th best passing offense.
In the weeks to come, Flacco will have to cut down on the mistakes while continuing to try to make chicken salad out of chicken poo, to avoid the team’s first losing season since his arrival from the University of Delaware. The best way to do that is to keep it simple, as he pointed out prior to the bye week.
“I think the thing you try to tell yourself to do is stay within yourself and just let the plays come to you and play within what we’re doing,” he remarked when asked if he felt like he had to to take his game to another level to overcome the injuries facing the team. “If anything, that’s what you’re telling yourself, because when you get out on the field, I think the tendency might be to try to do – in the moment – try to do too much.
“So, if anything, the biggest thing is just trying to stay within the rules and do what we can and just keep telling yourself, keep preaching to yourself, that’s going to be the best for the team.”
While I’m not naive enough to think the Ravens can run the table over their remaining eight games, they will make it interesting. The team won’t quit and Joe Flacco won’t quit.
The league is filled with surpises week in and week out. Hang on folks – it’ going to be a bumpy ride filled with plenty of ups and downs.
Never easy, never pretty. The Ravens way.
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