Countless young men aspire to become an NFL quarterback and want to be or play like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, the Manning brothers in Peyton and Eli, Aaron Rodgers, and many others. However, it would not be a surprise if Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was not on the list of greats for young dreamers to emulate, due to his unstable popularity.
Flacco is recognized for being a good quarterback. On the flipside, the Jersey native isn’t really respected as a good quarterback—compared to other select star signal callers—among the national media and many Baltimore fans. Sure, Flacco has supporters, mainly his family members, but the comfort level in Flacco’s fans is similar to walking in the street blindfolded, not knowing what is going to happen next.
It appears that Flacco cannot win if he wins, but definitely loses when he loses.
For four consecutive seasons, Flacco has led the Ravens to the postseason. Yet, Flacco has not received his just due as a solid quarterback around the NFL, and especially around Baltimore. For the Ravens’ staff and players, they truly don’t understand why Flacco receives tons of flack for the team’s offensive struggles.
“I think I’m more shocked with how people can speak about somebody who is just a flat-out winner,” said Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. “There is no one side to anything. There is no one player that makes the team great. It takes a team effort. For Joe, who came in here and did what he’s done for us … I’ve told people from Day One when I first saw that kid throw the football, I said, ‘That kid is special.’ You watch all of these guys who went in the top, first draft picks, and they aren’t even in football anymore.
“You’re talking about a guy who came into this league, has been to the playoffs all four years and has given his team the opportunity to win games,” he added. “Joe doesn’t play defense. So, when we gave up touchdowns on defense, that wasn’t Joe’s fault. When people beat us on defense or scheme something against us, that’s not Joe’s fault. The times that Pittsburgh was scrambling and made a big play on us, that wasn’t Joe’s fault.
“So, a lot of things that people always try to put on the quarterback, I understand that, but it isn’t about that,” he continued. “It’s about the Baltimore Ravens. We are a complete team. We go into games and we win as a team, we lose as a team.”
No one feels sorry for Flacco. He’s a millionaire athlete who is a solid player and is living the dream. Moreover, on the highest level of football, the quarterback will justly and unjustly receive all the praise and criticism for a team’s output. The quarterback position was what Flacco signed up for and no one put a gun to his head and made him want to throw a ball for a living.
Baltimore fans are difficult to please, and they feel entitled to greatness.
Since the ’50s, the city of Baltimore has become accustomed to winning. In 1958 and 1959, the Baltimore Colts won back-to-back NFL Championships. In 1966, the Baltimore Orioles won the World Series, and in 1968, the Colts were champions again. In 1970, the Orioles won the World Series.
In 1971, the Colts won Super Bowl V. In 1983, the Orioles won again, and in 1985, the Baltimore Stars won the title for United States Football League (USFL). In 1995, the Baltimore Stallions won the Grey Cup—the first and only American based team for the Canadian Football League (CFL) to win the cup.
In 2001, the Ravens won the Super Bowl, and the Baltimore Mariners (the American Indoor Football Association—AIFA) won their title in 2010 with a perfect record of 14-0.
Baltimore is not famously known as a championship city compared to New York, Boston and Los Angeles, but Baltimore sports fans know of their championship glory.
Baltimore fans want this Ravens team to be a part of the city’s championship history, as they constantly blitz Flacco more than the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s unfortunate that as intelligent as Ravens fans are, they do not recognize how fortunate they truly are to have a talent such as Flacco, as they judge and view the Delaware grad through the eyes of elite quarterbacks around the NFL.
Future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed, Flacco’s “teammate,” did not make things easy for his field general either, with the comments he made about Mr. Mustache, saying Joe was “rattled” in the team’s win over the Houston Texans in the AFC Divisional Round.
Perfect timing for the 2011 NFL Playoffs, right?
“I understand where Ed’s heart is,” said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. “All of our guys, when they say things and you get a chance to talk about it … We’re together all the time. We know each other. We understand where each other is coming from. I’m sure there are some things he would have like to have said a little better.
“If you look at the whole context and hear the tone of his voice and the message he was trying to communicate, it’s a good message,” he added. “But obviously, things could have been [said differently]. The way you read them and stuff like that, I’m sure he’s not really happy about that.”
For his postseason career, Flacco has a passer rating of 69.3 and has thrown six touchdowns, along with seven interceptions. It’s no secret that the Ravens are a ball controlled team, heavy on the legs. Given the strong conference Flacco plays in, against better defenses, the 27-year-old veteran has done well, as he is more of a situational quarterback—situational in a sense that he will deliver when need.
Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is not much of a help for Flacco, either. Cameron does not allow Flacco to audible at the line of scrimmage, despite what he sees. It’s like Cameron is the puppeteer and Flacco is being strung along.
Reed’s comments about Flacco not having a hold on the offense was not towards his quarterback, but to Cameron, who did not adjust properly in the second of the contests against the Texans.
When Flacco was noticed being rattled by the Texans’ outstanding defense, Cameron, as the head of the offense, should have implemented a new plan to help his starting quarterback. Due to Cameron’s handcuffs on Flacco, the judgment on how good No. 5 truly is is yet to be determined.
The best season Flacco has had was in 2010, when he had a full-time quarterbacks coach in Jim Zorn, as the Ravens starting signal caller posted better numbers in all categories.
Cameron and Zorn did not work out, and Flacco loses again.
Flacco is capable of winning a Super Bowl. Nevertheless, Flacco needs to play better, man up if he differs from Cameron, and just go win ball games. Opponents believe if they can stop running back Ray Rice, they can stop the Ravens’ offense.
“Obviously we are not very good, statistically, on offense. If you look at the statistics, you can say, ‘Hey we don’t score a ton of points,’” said Flacco. “We don’t put up a ton of yards. But the bottom line is we get the job done. We score points when we need to. We are really good in situational football.
“I think that has been proven over the year,” he continued. “If we need to run the ball, we usually run the ball. If we need to throw the ball, we usually throw the ball. We don’t do a ton of things to be really explosive—in the top of the league statistically—but we have the ability to be a really good offense.”
Flacco has weapons on the outside now and he does not have to throw over 300 yards and three touchdowns each game. All Flacco has to do is deliver in times of need and the Ravens will win, and perhaps even go on to win the Super Bowl.
Then, Flacco can finally win.