Joe Flacco: Don’t Bet Against Him
Joe Flacco: Don’t Bet Against Him | Chris Schisler | July 17, 2013
The Joe Flacco era has been incredible for the Baltimore Ravens. There is simply no other way to describe the past five years of Baltimore football. Since Joe Flacco became the Ravens starting quarterback the Ravens have been to 3 AFC championship games and have won Super Bowl 47. Joe Flacco is the only quarterback to win at least one playoff game in each of his first five seasons. With 6 road playoff games he has won the most playoff games on the road in league history. If Lee Evans had not dropped the game winning touchdown pass in the 2011 AFC championship game, Joe would have seven road playoff wins. If that was not enough, Joe Flacco tied a record held by Joe Montana this past postseason, with 11 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Flacco has seldom gotten the praise these accomplishments merit.
The Ravens have always been known for their defense and their running game. This is part of why Joe does not get the credit he deserves. From 1996 to 2012 the face of the franchise has been linebacker, Ray Lewis. This is now changing. With Ray Lewis enjoying retirement, it is undoubtedly Joe Flacco’s team. This offseason the Ravens backed up this idea, giving the Super Bowl MVP a $120.6 million dollar contract. Many fans were outraged. Joe Flacco went from Super Bowl hero to the reason the championship team was dismantled, in only a matter of months. This was an inaccurate blame. Flacco’s lucrative deal was broken down in a way that was very cap friendly to the Ravens. While the deal will likely need to be restructured in three years; Joe’s contract did not financially cripple the Ravens. This is just one example of many in which many Ravens fans had a wrongly unfavorable acuity of Joe Flacco.
Joe Flacco lifted the Ravens to new heights in 2012. The Ravens defense was plagued by injuries and was less than stellar outside of the red zone. Joe Flacco had to outscore the greats: Peyton Manning and Tom Brady to get to the Super Bowl. Joe Flacco threw for 287 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Super Bowl against the 49ers. The Ravens 31 points were just barely enough to hold off the 49ers offense that was almost unstoppable in the second half of the game. On the game’s biggest stage Joe Flacco’s impeccable play was barely enough. The Ravens may have been known for defense but now they should be known for their Super Bowl hero, Joe Flacco.
The Ravens quarterback has not been among one of the league’s flashiest or statistically best quarterbacks during his tenure with the Ravens. He has never thrown for over 4,000 yards and the most touchdowns he has thrown in a regular season are 25. There have been a handful of awfully ugly offensive performances in his career. The Ravens however have won and Flacco has made big plays when they mattered most.
Things were so bad this past season that the Ravens fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Since Cameron’s departure Joe Flacco has been sensational. In his historic playoff performance Joe Flacco completed more deep passes than any other quarterback. The dramatic rise in consistency and production from Flacco suggests that he really was handcuffed by Cameron. The offense under Jim Caldwell’s guidance has looked completely different. Flacco is more aggressive and is running the offense with confidence. He is changing more plays at the line. One of the Super Bowl’s most pivotal plays featured an audible to a pass on 3rd and 1. Flacco completed a back shoulder pass to Anquan Boldin and the Ravens were able put their final three points on the board. It was one of the gutsiest audibles in NFL history but it may have won the Ravens the game.
Joe Flacco is now one of the richest quarterbacks to ever play professional football. The Ravens had offered Flacco what many believed to be a fair contract before the 2012 season. Flacco declined the offer, to eventually win a rather large gamble. Joe Flacco bet on himself when the world was quick to doubt. He has made a habit of proving his critics and doubters wrong.
It is safe to call the Flacco Era in Baltimore incredible. This being said Flacco still receives massive criticism. His critics are running out of ammunition. They can no longer say that Joe can’t beat Pittsburgh. They can no longer say that he can’t win a Super Bowl. With so little to grasp at, his critics cling to his unspectacular regular season statistics and his low key personality. He may be an awful Pizza Hut spokesperson but Joe has become a great quarterback. Joe Flacco is not easily portrayed as likeable to the national media. This is why he will never get the mainstream credit other quarterbacks receive for their teams’ victories. Is it too much to ask of Baltimore to finally and fully embrace Joe Flacco?