The change in Joe Flacco’s approach and demeanor has been the center of attention during organized team activities and training camp. Seasoned veterans like Eric Weddle have acknowledged the difference in the veteran quarterback.
“He’s obviously been challenged,” Weddle said during OTAs. “We all are. As older players every year is a prove it year. If you don’t believe that you are fooling yourself.”
Flacco played down the difference in his approach during the first week of training camp.
“I don’t know. Does it matter what I say?” Flacco said. “I think you guys will probably link it to Lamar anyway. It’s interesting. I’d like to know who it comes from. If it comes from the new guys, they don’t know me, so I think maybe if you’re talking to Willie or Mike or something like that – I think a lot of times, people who come in here have this … They probably haven’t thought about me a day in their life.”
There seems to be a misconception that Flacco’s personality has come under the spotlight since the team drafted Lamar Jackson to eventually take the reigns at quarterback. It’s an interesting storyline for the national media and those outside of Baltimore, but local Ravens fans have found his demeanor maddening for years. They’ve seen that deadpan stare on the end of the bench after every three-and-out and back-foot interception. It has been a sense of frustration for several seasons.
The sense of indifference and lack of communication after a bad series was often excused. That’s just the way Joe works, according to his supporters. I thought that approach served him well in big games. Sure, it was frustrating, but in the big picture, maybe it was a good thing. That argument has subsided because the Ravens have missed the playoffs the past three seasons.
So, should the Ravens bring back Flacco and his $26.5 million salary for the 2019 season if he shows more fire and has a career year? Count me among those that think it’s time for the Ravens to move on either way.
Even if Flacco does have a career year, he’s never going to throw for 40+ touchdowns. A career year for him would be something comparable to his 2014 numbers when he threw for 3,986 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Those numbers aren’t worth $26.5 million dollars. Besides, it would leave a first round pick on the bench. It also speaks to Flacco’s overall desire and competitiveness that it took the pressure of a first-round pick to get his competitive juices flowing again. Do you think Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees would need to hear the footsteps of an early round pick to get the best out of them?
The simple answer to that is “No!”
Flacco’s indifference has been on display the last five seasons and the Ravens have paid the price. If he’s able to have a solid season in 2018 and get the Ravens back to the playoffs, it will be a great final season for him in Baltimore. But anything shy of a Super Bowl appearance should be his swan song in a Ravens uniform.
This organization also needs to be thinking long-term. Their brand has been damaged over the last couple of seasons and when they reached out to season ticket holders, one common theme resonated — they’ve been incredibly boring. Drafting Jackson was as much a business decision as it was a football one.
The Ravens lack playmakers. They need a player that fans can get excited about. They never have a player in the top 50 when it comes to jersey sales. The sooner Jackson becomes a staple on the field, the better it will be for the team’s long-term outlook. Even if he struggles for the first year or two, Jackson still has a tremendous upside.
Flacco has had a good run in Baltimore.
But 2019 should begin a new era for the franchise.