Joe Flacco’s Struggles Under Pressure are a Problem for Ravens


Nov 9, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) throws the ball in the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Flacco has earned the nickname “Joe Cool” largely because of his mellow, calm demeanor.  Flacco isn’t a loud, in your face personality who relishes the limelight, and that’s a good thing for a number of reasons.  He has, however, caught considerable flack over the years for perhaps not showing enough emotion when needed, or for lacking the fiery leadership quality that many deem necessary from a quarterback.

Unfortunately, that persona hasn’t carried over to Flacco’s performance under pressure this season.  This was quite evident in week nine as Flacco failed to recognize the Steeler’s blitz schemes, and again in week ten as the Titans had some success early by following the same game plan.  Taking a look at Flacco’s performance in every game this season, there are some notable similarities.

Let’s break down Joe Flacco’s effectiveness when pressured in each game this season.

[table id=13 /]

More from Ebony Bird

Throw out Flacco’s historic performance against a historically bad Bucs defense, and he has been mediocre at best and a liability at worst in ten games this season.  What’s more concerning is his steady downward spiral after a good start to the season, despite getting good protection for the most part.  In fact, Flacco has faced very little pressure in almost every game this season behind a rejuvenated offensive line.

To put things in perspective, we wanted to compare Joe Flacco’s performance under pressure to the rest of the NFL.  Thankfully, Pro Football Focus has a signature statistic that measures exactly what we are looking for: quarterback passing under pressure. This stat line takes into account only the plays on which a quarterback is pressured as well as how they respond.

Out of 29 qualifiers, Joe Flacco is 17th in completion percentage with 60.3%.  This is in spite of coming in 20th in pressure percentage as he has only faced heat on 30% of his dropbacks.  Only 9 quarterbacks have been pressured less.  For comparison’s sake, Russell Wilson has faced the most pressure (42.5%) and has a completion percentage of 67.9%.

In addition, only 8 quarterbacks have been sacked less than Flacco this season (14).  He has responded by throwing only 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions under duress, tying him for fifth worst among his fellow QB’s.  To Flacco’s credit, he has done a good job of throwing the ball away when needed and ranks in the top ten in that statistic.  Though some would argue he should find the open guy instead.

So while the Raven’s offensive line has prospered under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, Joe Flacco has thus far failed to make a huge leap.  He has certainly had his moments, but for a quarterback that rarely faces pressure in relation to his peers, Flacco should be doing a lot more.