Instead of Looking For Joe Flacco to take the next step, I have been waiting for the talent around him to take that step…
The Baltimore Ravens have never surrounded Joe Flacco with a bunch of weapons and an incredible offensive line. Flacco’s best wide receivers have been Steve Smith Sr., Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason; all of which were past their prime in Baltimore.
The Ravens offensive line has at times been great for Flacco. In the 2012 playoffs they certainly got the job done. In 2014 the offensive line was dominant. But in 2013 the blocking up front from the Ravens was horrendous. Since Flacco has been with the Ravens he has never had an elite group of weapons. The offensive line has had years both bad and good.
The Ravens went into this last season with Smith Sr. as their only proven receiver. While Kamar Aiken stepped up last season, the Ravens clearly didn’t have enough talent at the position. Then when Crockett Gillmore got hurt, the Ravens were really in trouble in the pass catching department.
Before getting injured in week 11, Flacco was on pace for a career year. It should be noted that he had to throw the football a lot to play catch up. It doesn’t change the fact that Flacco was one of the only things going right for the Ravens. The point is that Flacco did not have much help around him and he was still a prolific passer.
The argument that Flacco’s numbers are not flashy obviously is a result of the talent around him. Aaron Rodgers gets Jordy Nelson and Randle Cobb. Tom Brady gets Rob Gronkowski (and now Martellus Bennett). Heck even Matt Ryan has been spoiled. How many years did he have Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzales.
I’m not comparing Flacco to Brady (though he did whoop him in the playoffs). I am not comparing him to Rodgers. But Flacco is a franchise quarterback. It would be nice to treat him right. If the Ravens have elite talent around Flacco and we don’t get elite results, then you can call him a game manager all you want.
No matter how you feel about Flacco, he has done more with less than anybody. He has won more road playoff games than anyone in history. His regular season numbers do not matter when he’s chucking touchdown passes in the playoffs. If Flacco had the talent Ryan started with in Atlanta, the Ravens quarterback would have more than one Super Bowl win.
This season the Ravens have the best looking offense they have ever given good old number 5. Smith Sr. and Kamar Aiken are coming back. Breshad Perriman may finally play. Mike Wallace adds speed. The Ravens have more quality tight ends than anybody.
The Ravens also invested in the offensive line. They drafted Ronnie Stanley to be the future left tackle. The offensive line was actually decent last season. It certainly was not one of their biggest problems. With the chance of the unit being even better in 2016 (or at least just as good) the offense should thrive.
This is the season that we should expect more from Flacco. If he is healthy, there will be no excuses. He has weapons. His line is not going to be problematic. It always felt like Flacco was capable of so much more.
Many have gotten frustrated waiting for him to take the next step. I always believed that the offense needed to take that step. With the talent around him, I believe Flacco will have all new success. This upcoming season will surely test my hypothesis.