Ravens Roost

January 28, 2010 9:30 PM

Is Joe Flacco the future?

large_unflappable_flacco.jpg There has been much written and discussed on sports outlets about the state of Joe Flacco.  Has he progressed as he should? Has he gotten better at controlling a game? How does he stack up against the better quarterbacks in the league? There's a lot of questions out there, but all I can give you is facts, and they pretty much tell the story. 

If you go strictly by the numbers then yes, Flacco did improve from last season. In 2009 Joe Flacco was the number 6 rated quarterback in the NFL during the regular season. He passed for 3,613 yards and had 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and his quarterback rating was 88.9, which is very good.

In his rookie season he finished as the number 10 ranked quarterback, threw for 2,971 yards, and had 14 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. His quarterback rating was 80.3, which is still good but not spectacular.

That's an improvement of 642 more yards passing. He also put up 7 more touchdowns. So if you want to look at it in a purely statistical way then yes, Joe Flacco has gotten a lot better. But, statistics don't always tell the whole story. Sometimes numbers can be misleading, and then again they tell the real story. Here's how I see to what degree Flacco has improved.....

In training camp this year Joe wasn't the starry eyed rookie in awe of his surroundings. From day one he showed a command of the offense and a take charge attitude. He went from having Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron standing behind him at the line in his rookie year, telling him what the plays were, to calling audibles on his own against the Ravens stout defense. It was clear that he had picked up a lot in his rookie season and felt much more comfortable coming in this season.

Flacco and the Ravens offense started the year on fire, though not always against the stiffest of competition.It was said during training camp that the Ravens wanted to be more of a passing offense, and early on the held true to their word. But come Week 9 Cam Cameron made changes to the offenses game plan. Some of it was due to defensive coordinators learning how to game plan for the Ravens offense, and the rest remains a mystery. From this point in the season until the end the Ravens offense had no true identity. Joe Flacco had his ankle injured in Week 6 against the Vikings, and it seemed that he had trouble planting his rear leg on passes from that time on. I keyed in on Joe during home games and from what I saw he wasn't planting his rear leg to get authority on the ball. Instead he was standing flat footed and using arm strength alone, which caused many of his passes to sail .

As the weeks wore on and the nasty sacks started taking their toll Flacco was bruised from his mid stomach all the way down to his toes. If anyone saw him warming up for the playoff game against the Patriots you can be assured he wasn't faking it. Do you really think the Ravens would call for Flacco to only throw 10 passes for the game if he wasn't hurt?  Cameron may have been fired if he called a game plan such as that for no compelling reason.

One thing that most people can see is that Joe Flacco doesn't have the best of weapons to go to war with. While Derrick Mason is solid, and Todd Heap capable, he doesn't have much more then that and Ray Rice. Mark Clayton is a number 3 receiver on most good teams, not a second. Apparently Demetrius Williams has some sort of mental block when it comes to giving 100% from practice to game time which has caused him to sit on the bench for most of the season. What the Ravens don't have is a consistent deep threat, the kind that break games wide open. Until, and unless the Ravens correct this shortcoming they are never going to be a true balanced offense.

Joe Flacco will grow despite the lack of having a game changing receiver, but his growth should shoot off the charts if he does get one.  While being restricted by the Final 8 rule the owners imposed in the event of an uncapped year the Ravens will still have the ability to sign one free agent to a $3-4 million dollar contract. That number excludes the like of Anquan Boldin or Brandon Marshall, but there are a number of good receivers that may become available. Let's just hope Ozzie Newsome can pull the trigger if the situation presents itself.        .

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