PiR: Ravens Need More from Joe Flacco

Street Talk PiR: Ravens Need More from Joe Flacco

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REALITY: The Ravens have lost three straight games, tying for the longest losing streak under John Harbaugh.

Perception: The Ravens have lost three games in a row a couple of times, but never four in the nine seasons with Harbaugh as Head Coach.

Three weeks ago, the Ravens lost by one point to the Raiders. It was in the 4th quarter of that game that a coaching decision by Harbaugh hurt his team. The Ravens had just stopped the Raiders on a crucial 3rd down. On the play, the Raiders were called for unnecessary roughness. If declined, it would have set up a 4th down 43-yard field goal attempt. If made, it would have given the Raiders a 5-point lead. Instead Harbaugh accepted the penalty, giving the Raiders a 3rd down and 17. The Raiders ended up making a 1st down and went on to score a touchdown, giving them a nine-point lead. With the Ravens losing by one, those extra four points were critical.

Two weeks ago, the Ravens lost by six points to the Redskins. It was in the 2nd quarter of that game that Harbaugh made another interesting call that proved to hurt his team. Setting up for a 34-yard Justin Tucker field goal, the Ravens faked it to go for a touchdown and it was unsuccessful. Those lost three points were critical because had they made that kick, then during their final drive in the 4th quarter they would have only needed a field goal to tie.

Last week, the Ravens lost by four points to the Giants. It was on the first play of the 4th quarter when the Ravens had a 4th and goal from the 1-yard line, down by four points. The aggressive coach decided to go for it and the offense failed to score (IMO, the play call by new OC Marty Mornhinweg was just awful.) So instead of being down just one early in the 4th, the Ravens were down by four. They ended up losing by four, which means they needed a touchdown on the final drive. If they only needed a field goal to tie, they had a shot.

Three weeks, three questionable coaching decisions, three losses.

When you have a really good team, you can win despite those sort of things. But this year’s Ravens are not a really good team. They are a team that should be good enough, but when you have 15 penalties for 111 yards, and you have bad play calls and bad game management, it’s too much to overcome.

I really like John Harbaugh. I think he has been a great leader for this franchise. He has lead them through good and bad years, player mutinies and keeping the team together during a couple bad seasons. His leadership has been great. His game management, not so great. Is he on the hot seat? Well, it’s warming, but he isn’t going anywhere… at least not this season.

If the Ravens go 5-11 or worse, then I could see more coaching changes coming this offseason, but I still think Steve Bisciotti gives Harbaugh one more season to turn things around. I think you’ll see Harbaugh as the head coach of the Ravens in 2017.

REALITY: Joe Flacco has a QB Rating of 78.9. Only four starting QBs have a worse rating.

Perception: Brock Osweiler, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Blaine Gabbert, and Jameis Winston are the only QBs in the NFL that have attempted more than 150 passes and have a worse rating than Flacco.

Yes, that means Blake Bortles, Case Keenum, Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota, Kirk Cousins, Alex Smith, Brian Hoyer, Trevor Siemian, Dak Prescott, and even Tyrod Taylor have a better rating than Flacco.

Yes, I understand that Quarterback Ratings are not everything. But Flacco is outside the Top 15 in yards per game, average yards per pass, completion percentage, and touchdowns.

Do you want to blame the guys around him? The current Ravens wide receivers are better than many of the past year’s teams. Their running game is better than many in recent years. The tight ends are better than recently. Even with its MAJOR issues, the defense is still statistically better than many in recent years.

Now, yes, the offensive line is awful. That needs to be fixed, and that is on Ozzie Newsome. He should have seen the lack of depth and done something about it. But even with a bad offensive line, Joe is just not playing well.

Flacco is not going through his progressions, instead he looks for the dump-off immediately. Watch his eyes on every pass play. He is not looking left and coming back right. He is not looking deep and coming up to the underneath receiver. He simply looks at the short pass the entire time.

And, the major critique of national analysts, local experts, and the fans for years has been Flacco throwing off his back foot. Some could say that it’s because he is running for his life that he just chucks it, but that’s not valid for every single time. He seems to throw off his back foot more than any other QB in the league. Why is this never addressed by the team?

I am a defender of Joe Flacco. I wear his jersey every Sunday. I like him being the QB of this team, but he needs to get better, rather than worse. As he gets older, I am not seeing improvement in his game at all. He is the same as the day he stepped foot in Baltimore. He is calm, cool, and collected, but he still makes rookie mistakes.

That is where my issue is. The coaches need to get him to improve, because he is not on his own. But he is and will remain the quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens. For all those who are calling for his head…who are you going to get to replace him? The last thing I want is another quarterback carousel in Baltimore. Been there, done that. The next time another QB starts in Baltimore, I hope it’s when Flacco retires. Until then, let’s get on the coaches to actually coach him up and on Joe himself to be more cognizant of his own mechanics.

I’ll stop right there for today. Part 2 of this week’s Perception is Reality coming tomorrow.

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Joe Polek

About Joe Polek

Joe Polek was born in Baltimore, MD, and was raised in Bel Air, MD. He lived in Maine from 2001-2012, where he met his wife and had two daughters. He now resides in Columbia, SC where he has left TV/Radio and is the South Carolina Marketing Coordinator for Bojangles’ Restaurants. Joe is a huge sports fan, but most importantly he lives and breathes Baltimore (and Maryland) sports. He routinely gets back to Baltimore for a Ravens and Orioles game once a year. A couple of his highlights were being at the final game at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, and also sitting in left field for “2130”, and “2131” (Cal Ripken’s consecutive game streak).

Find Joe on Twitter @JoePolek.

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