Flacco Battle Tested
By Zack Cimini
When a player comes in and is drafted with little to no expectations it can make for an easier transition. After all your main mind set is too prove to everyone else that did not draft you that you’re the real deal. For Joe Flacco, his rookie campaign has to be classified as a rarity. A strong organization like the Baltimore Ravens was positioning him to be their future stud. Patience grew thin on Kyle Boller and suddenly Flacco was getting his chance to shine. Maybe being thrust into the spotlight unknowingly gave Flacco the chance to go out and not think about his situation.
He stormed onto the scene and really went unnoticed as far as having an impact until the Ravens made the playoffs. Up until then people were saying that Flacco was playing within the offense and the Ravens concept. They were limiting his reads, progressions, and shots down the field. You can say that for just about any offensive in the league depending on who the opposing defense is. For Flacco though he was making the most of those strikes down the field.
After the 2009 playoffs when the Ravens went to the AFC championship game the hype surrounding Flacco coming back was just beginning to blossom. His numbers were less than spectacular in the playoffs but his accuracy and arm strength was there. The key to what happened down the stretch in the playoffs in 2009 that was overlooked was Flacco’s inconsistency. Of all the things that you would not want to carry over, that did.
Flacco’s 2009 year did not start off anywhere near what he would of imagined. The Ravens were entrusting a bigger role for Flacco and he was not ready for it. A transformation of play calling saved the Ravens season, and shifted them back into the wild card spot. They finished the year winning three of their last four to gain position in a favorable matchup against the New England Patriots. The key to the Ravens end of season uprise was utilizing their backfield tandem. Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, and Le’Ron McClain were as good as any backfield units and will still be going into 2010.
One of the areas that likely hurt Flacco was at the wide receiver position. Before training camp began in 2009, the Ravens were caught off-guard by the sudden announcement that Derrick Mason would not return. It was thought to be an emotional decision based on days earlier that Steve McNair had been murdered. After some time Mason decided he would return. Mason though is an aging receiver that could not be relied on as a number one receiver. Behind him Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams were not the type of receivers who were going to scare opposing secondary’s.
Thus the Ravens finally decided to upgrade at the receiver position. Bringing in Anquan Boldin was a strong enough move to show Flacco the Ravens mean business. Boldin may have taken a second seat to Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona, but he is a guy that is going to leave it all on the field. He punishes opposing cornerbacks and has a knack for finding holes and providing a target spot for quarterbacks to fit in balls. Baltimore also rolled the dice by signing Donte Stallworth. Everyone knows the reasoning Stallworth missed last season. He brings speed to the table and can fit in certain packages such as the spread and wide formations on seven to ten plays a game.
Last year wasn’t necessarily a disappointment from expected charted growth for a second year quarterback. For fantasy football fans it was. Flacco slid by the week on updated fantasy boards and drifted to a borderline considerable benching. He was the reason why you key in on securing a backup that can actually step in without too many worries. Flacco’s growth in 2010 should be a hit to the comparisons expected a year ago. He has went through enough ups and downs to bear the brunt of blows that come with the territory of being a starting NFL quarterback. Those situations are going to come and go, but Flacco shouldn’t linger stretches of weeks at a time with that happening.