Ravens Player Profile: QB Joe FlaccoPosted on July 14, 2014 by Jeremy Herskovic
If you asked any fan, writer, coach, or player how they thought the 2013 Ravens’ offense would look, they would tell you this…word for word. “The 2013 Ravens will be absolutely explosive! Flacco just won the Superbowl in MVP fashion, tied Montana’s playoff records and upstaged some of the game’s best in the process. The offensive line is absolutely dominant! Every starter from last year is coming back except Birk at Center, and Gino’s been more than prepped! The runningbacks are absolutely solid, Ray and Pierce are the next Spiller/Jackson duo, a great one-two punch. And the wide receivers?! Ok, Anquan’s gone…BUT, Torrey is more than ready to be the number one, we have Jacoby who can stretch the field, Pitta can catch anything in the middle of the field, and there are a ton of young guys, Doss, Deonte, Mellette, Reed, and Brown that are looking really great. Not to mention the vets we brought in, Stokley and Clark, to catch passes too! This year’s gonna be something great!”
Yeah, it was. Then a few things happened.
The offensive line absolutely crashed. Gino wasn’t ready to start, McKinnie was let go a few games into the season for lack of effort. Osemele was hurt in the games that he did play, which turned out to be less than half the season before back surgery forced him to finish the season on IR. And Oher was being Oher. Yanda, who had offseason rotator cuff surgery and started training camp on the PUP list, was the only consistent starter.
The running backs fell in similar fashion. While a lot of people like to point the finger at the offensive line, you have to remember that a 31st-ranked run game is a little bit of everyone’s fault. Ray tried playing at a higher weight (around 230, up from his natural 212 frame) and ended up missing time for a torn hip flexor. Even when he returned, it was obvious that he was not Ray. Pierce played most of the season (preseason and regular) recovering from injury, and decreased play time.
What can be said of this wide receiver corps…or lack thereof. Torrey proved to be a great number one and only looks to get better as he gets more comfortable. He registered his first 1,000 yard season, accounted for about 1/3 of Flacco’s total passing yardage, and proved that he could be counted on. Marlon Brown was also a pleasant surprise. As an undrafted rookie, Brown went on to tie the Ravens’ rookie TD record with 7 and become a consistent set of hands in the redzone. Jacoby missed much of the season after a game 1 collision with Brynden Trawick. Stokley missed all but a few games due to injury. Clark faded as the season went on. Reed didn’t make it to the season before being cut. Mellette and Doss were eventually cut and it seems like Deonte could be next.
All of these factors led Flacco to have one of his worst statistical seasons in the NFL and failure to lead the Ravens to playoffs for the first time in his career.
Torrey Smith made up 1,128 of Flacco’s 3,912 total passing yardage.
Ok, so actually the only thing that significantly changed was the amount of interceptions Flacco tossed last year. Completion percentage, passing touchdowns and yardage have all remained about the same. Yardage has continued to increase since Flacco’s been in the league, pointing to the possibility of breaking the 4,000 yard barrier this season.
What the critics are saying: Flacco is never a critic favorite. Heck, even when he won Superbowl MVP most critics were pointing towards another player (or sometimes another team) for the ACTUAL reason why the Ravens were able to “slip past” the league’s best. As a Ravens’ fan, that’s just something you’ll have to live with. No one believes in Flacco. No one thinks he’s one of the league’s best. No one will ever give him credit. Even though he’s never missed a game. Even though he’s lead the Ravens to the playoffs in 5 of his first 6 seasons as a pro. Even though he holds the record for the largest amount of games won in a quarterback’s first 6 years. It’s ok, we’ll continue to cry into our Lombardi.
The Good: (Yes, I know we’ve heard it before) Flacco has a huge rapport of receivers to go to this year, with a great blend of experience (Smith, Daniels), players entering their prime (other Smith, Pitta), and a few newbies looking to earn a spot on the roster (Campanaro, Butler). Reports say Flacco’s footwork and build look the best they have in his career, and he, himself, is looking to rebound after what was obviously a down year.
The Bad: Any time you have a new system, you have to worry that it won’t translate well from the classroom to the field. Flacco has had all good things to say about the system (and everyone has had all good things to say about him), he seems to be developing chemistry with everyone, but we’ll only know for sure that he was able to handle the transition when we see him in pads on that first Sunday against the Browns.
What it adds up to: Flacco is not the best quarterback in the NFL. In reality, he’s just in the top 10. However, the system that Ozzie, John, and Steve build around him every year has proven successful. Gary Kubiak’s offense is known as a run-first, play action heavy offense, which means Flacco will need to be at his utmost athleticism, be able to thrown on the run, and look for the short passes first; three things he isn’t incredibly well known for. However, if he is easing into the system as well as training camp interviews lead us to believe, then expect Flacco to excel in Kubiak’s system, as well as return to the cannon-armed, elusive bore that we’ve come to call our Franchise Quarterback.
2014 Projected stats: 380/590, 64.4%, 26 touchdowns, 9 interceptions