Did we speak too soon in Joe Flacco’s case?


Aug 13, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) throws before the preseason NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to Saturday’s preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens columnist John Eisenberg featured Joe Flacco in what would be his last column where he questioned Flacco as an elite quarterback in the NFL. But after Flacco’s performance Saturday, it’s safe to say that maybe Eisenberg regrets making that announcement so soon.

Flacco was left with no other choice but to take responsibility for Baltimore’s bad play on the offensive side of the football in their 40-17 loss to Philly.

“We like to come out here and put our best foot forward every single game and we didn’t do that tonight,” Flacco said after Saturday’s loss.

Baltimore’s first-team offense was only on the field for three series, but it was their lackluster performance in that short period of time that put Flacco on the hot seat. In their preseason opener, the Ravens’ first-team offense scored on an impressive first and only drive of the game, but Saturday that was far from the case. This time, Flacco and the starting offense were unable to put up any points or even make it across the 50-yard line as Flacco threw interceptions in Baltimore’s first two drives.

On the first interception, Flacco went deep with a pass that was intended for wide receiver Kamar Aiken, which was deflected and then intercepted by Eagles cornerback Walter Thurmond. The second interception came after Flacco overthrew a pass intended for wide receiver Marlon Brown, who was wide open on the play.

“We had a guy wide open with Marlon, and he’s a 6-foot-5 wide receiver and I overthrew him by five feet,” Flacco said about the second interception. “You just can’t have that. …I made a terrible throw.”

Last week Eisenberg wrote a piece entitled, “Eisenberg: Shark has jumped Joe Flacco elite debate.” He has wrote several pieces on this topic in the past, but informed his viewers that this would be the last one, sarcastically alluding to the emotional toll it’s taking on him. The ‘Flacco versus elite’ conversation has lost its credibility over the course of Flacco’s NFL career as he’s fared quite well for himself since joining the Ravens in 2008.

Flacco has been very successful in the postseason and after winning a Super Bowl in 2012, but the fact that he’s yet to be selected to the Pro Bowl has likely kept this topic about his elite status or lackthereof somewhat relevant.

As if Flacco’s past performances haven’t been enough to graduate him out of this debate, he’s had the support of coaches around the league that have cosigned the notion that Flacco is a top QB in the NFL.

“Is Joe Flacco elite? You bet he is. He helped me. That’s probably why I’m standing up here today (as a head coach),” Gary Kubiak told reporters.

Kubiak isn’t exaggerating either. Even though Baltimore’s season came up short last year, their offense exceeded expectations after bringing in a new offensive coordinator and incorporating a new offense. That’s something that doesn’t always pan out well for teams, but it surely did in Baltimore’s case and Flacco was a huge part of that success.

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly also joined the Flacco bandwagon last week as they underwent joint practices with the Ravens.

“I think he’s one of the elite quarterbacks in this league,” Kelly said.

That’s not something that Kelly is obligated to say, but yet he told the media that without any hesitation and I’m sure even after watching his team give Flacco some problems on Saturday, Kelly still feels the same way.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Flacco is an elite QB in this league and at the end of the day it is a preseason game we’re talking about. However, at the same time, what he’s accomplished in the past does not matter. It’s all about right now and after leaving things unfinished on Philly’s home field Saturday night, Flacco has no choice but to come into Baltimore’s next preseason game as if it’s the start of the regular season.

This is a guy who has been on the record saying that quarterbacks should only get better with age and this is also Joe “Cool” we’re talking about, so I expect a different kind of performance when the Ravens take the field against Washington this Saturday.

Aug 22, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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