Joe Flacco Proves He Can Change His Game
By Brett Foote
Sep 11, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) runs the offense against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Flacco has been the recipient of lots of hate through his NFL career, most of it unwarranted. We have touched base before on some of the unfair criticisms that Flacco has received from the media and fans alike, debunking some of them altogether. But one of the biggest legitimate concerns many had coming into the 2014 season was Flacco’s ability to completely change his game. And it’s one that wasn’t unwarranted.
Joe Flacco has always been the guy who takes huge seven step drops and then throws deep bombs to Torrey Smith. He does it every year, over and over, and he has the arm for it. Unfortunately, that also means that he has taken a lot of physical punishment behind some not-so-great offensive lines. Flacco has absorbed an astounding 222 sacks in six seasons (plus 3 this year), a rate that cannot continue if the Ravens hope to keep him under center.
Flacco completed 72% of his passes against the Steelers, with only two of his 29 attempts going deep. He simply stuck in the pocket, made quick decisions, and kept the chains moving.
The tendency to take deep shots isn’t a great recipe for success in completion percentage either. Flacco’s percentages have hovered in the 50’s for the last three seasons, a pretty poor performance by NFL standards. Meanwhile, his ratings have hovered around the low 80 mark, which is mediocre as well. Flacco hasn’t exactly been a picture of efficiency in his six plus seasons in the league, but much of that is due to scheme.
Offensive guru and quarterback whisperer Gary Kubiak came into Baltimore with the intentions of making Joe Flacco his next star under center. This is the same guy who made Matt Schaub a Pro Bowler and Case Keenum a serviceable replacement before the wheels fell off in Houston. But many questioned Flacco’s ability to change his game completely, and for good reason. He has been a gunslinger since his days at Delaware.
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But through two games, we can almost safely say that those concerns can be put to rest. After a strange game plan in week one that saw Flacco attempt an amazing 62 passes, week two was a more balanced affair. Flacco completed 72% of his passes against the Steelers, with only two of his 29 attempts going deep. He simply stuck in the pocket, made quick decisions, and kept the chains moving.
Joe Flacco’s performance against the Steelers hasn’t, and won’t, get a lot of attention. After all, the stats aren’t flashy and won’t win anybody a fantasy football game. But in real life, it was a revelation. Pro Football Focus even took note, pointing out that Flacco was a perfect 13 of 13 for 120 yards and a touchdown on passes between the numbers and within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?