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Flacco must play better if the Ravens are going to return to the postseason




11 Touchdowns. Zero interceptions. 117.2 passer rating. That was quarterback Joe Flacco’s stat line of his historical performance last postseason. He went head to head against four great quarterbacks along the way and outperformed all of them. He led his team to it’s second championship in franchise history. He was rewarded with a $120 million contract, the biggest ever at the time he signed it. That was then, and this is now.

The reality is that Flacco isn’t close to living up to his price tag. He currently has thrown 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, with a 75.3 quarterback rating. He is on pace to throw for more yards than he ever has, but that is how the NFL is these days. His team is 4-6, and are on their last stand. Now, it can’t all be put on Flacco because this team has changed a lot from the one that he guided to a Super Bowl.

The team traded away their most talented and consistent receiver Anquan Boldin, and his favorite target, Dennis Pitta, hasn’t played a down this year because of a training camp injury. On top of that, center Matt Birk retired, and left guard Kelechi Osemele was put on Injured Reserve recently. Before they traded for Eugene Monroe, Bryant McKinnie was getting beat by everyone, and Flacco was always running for his life. He has no running game, making the offense one dimensional, which makes it easier for a defense to blitz more. In fact, Flacco has been the most blitzed quarterback in the NFL so far this season. All things considered, it is easy to see why Flacco is struggling this season, but considering how much money he is making and that Flacco always says he is the best quarterback in the NFL, he needs to perform better.

Great quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady make players around them better. They make their receivers look like Calvin Johnsons and their offensive lineman look like Jonathan Ogdens at times. That is why they are great quarterbacks. flacco21-5722That has never really been the case for Flacco and it used to be acceptable. He was the young quarterback who just had to manage games, while his running game and defense carried the team. Now that he is a Super Bowl winning quarterback and has that big contract, he has to play better, regardless of what is going on around him.

This team has been in every game this year except for the Broncos game, and if Flacco was able to make just a few more plays, they would have a better record than 4-6. Yes, his line needs to block better and his receivers need to do a better job of catching the ball, but Flacco needs to play at the same level we saw from him in the playoffs last year, and do it consistently. He needs to also play smarter football. He has already matched his career high in interceptions in a season with 13, and it has only been ten games. Those interceptions are all his fault too, as he has had trouble reading coverages and forcing some bad throws into tight areas. I know that Flacco is trying to make more plays for his team, but they aren’t calculated risks. They are irresponsible passes. He can’t throw that pass to Dallas Clark against the Bears into tight coverage in that situation. It was third and long and it was almost halftime, and he forced a bad pass to Clark that was intercepted and allowed the Bears to get a field goal before halftime. Those mistakes are the ones that are making him look bad, and putting his team in bad positions.

I still believe in Joe Flacco. He has always won games and he has a Super Bowl ring to back it up. Is he making too much money? Probably, but that was what the market was, and were the Ravens just not going to resign their quarterback that just won the Super Bowl for them? They had no choice, and Flacco’s playoff performance warranted a big payday. He has all the tools to be that quarterback who threw 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the four most important games of the year. There are plenty of excuses that can be made for Flacco, but that is all thrown out the window when you want to consider him elite. If he plays well and takes care of the ball, he will make the players around him better. He has just been way too inconsistent his whole career. This six game stretch will be very telling about Flacco as he embarks on a new journey where he has to lead a losing team back into contention. He knows he has to play better or else he will be sitting at home in January watching other quarterbacks try and make it to the Super Bowl. That would be something new for Flacco, but he has the tools and resume to prevent that from happening. Flacco isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but if the Ravens are to go anywhere this year and in the future, he will have to play like that guy who threw 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions last postseason.


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