The Ravens will go into the 2017 season with Joe Flacco as their starting quarterback.
The Baltimore Ravens get a ton of flack (pun intended) for signing Joe Flacco to a big contract. The franchise has shuffled quarterbacks like a cards are shuffled in a casino. They finally got a franchise quarterback, he won the Super Bowl. Not only did he win the Super Bowl, but he was the Super Bowl MVP and he played some legendary football to get the team to the top. If you thought Flacco was going to get the Trent Dilfer treatment, you were fooling yourself.
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Flacco got his market value. In this era of NFL football, you don’t need to be amazing to get big money as a quarterback. Ryan Tannehill is a highly paid quarterback. Nobody wants to sign up for the epic turmoil of the Cleveland Browns. If it were not for an amazing defensive legacy, the Ravens could have suffered a similar fate. Flacco does not be elite to be paid like it. If the Doplhins have to make a splash (pun intended) to keep their quarterback, the Ravens have to as well. That’s the NFL for you, in 2017.
It can get a lot worse than Flacco. I’m not suggesting that Flacco is elite and everything is peaches and cream. I get that Flacco needs to play better. The Ravens essentially had their top brass call Flacco out in the state of the Ravens press conference. I am suggesting however, that Flacco is a quarterback that the team can win with.
Ravens Have Always Given Him Excuses
Excuses have always been available to Flacco. He has never had a great set of weapons. The offensive line has been up and down in his nine season career. Don’t forget that the Ravens have had four offensive coordinators since they won the Super Bowl. Two offensive coordinators were replaced after they got head coaching jobs, the other two have just been terrible.
Flacco entered the 2016 season after an ACL injury last season. Flacco never seemed like himself last season. He wasn’t taking shots to open receivers down the field. On Sundays you could count on two things this season; Peyton Manning would be in every other commercial and Joe Flacco would throw off of his back foot. His footwork has regressed and if it was a problem coaching could fix, it wouldn’t still be a problem. If Flacco plays better in 2017, everyone will point to his injury as his hindrance in 2016. We should be pointing to that right now.
The Ravens receivers were less dynamic than we hoped. Mike Wallace exceeded expectations but he was coming off a 39 reception season in Minnesota. Steve Smith Sr. was a stud but that’s all the Ravens could really count on from the Ravens receivers. Dennis Pitta had a great season after back to back hip injuries. What would have happened if Pitta didn’t make a surprising comeback? It isn’t like the Ravens gave Flacco much help with the running game.
Moving On Makes No Sense
The Ravens need play-makers who can help them win. Flacco’s successor is not coming in free agency. The Ravens have no cap space and Flacco plays a role in that. Its not like the Ravens are going to find a quarterback that is better on the open market any way. The NFL Draft is the only way the Ravens could find the next franchise quarterback. As my colleague Joe Schiller suggested, I am not opposed to drafting a guy and developing him. That being said, the Ravens can’t get a guy for the present. The Ravens need to draft a player in the first round for much more pressing needs.
Baltimore Must Help Flacco Turn It Around
The Ravens have a franchise quarterback. Love him or hate him, Flacco is not going any where. That means the Ravens have no choice but making it work. They need to have Marty Mornhinweg studying tape of the 2014 season. Baltimore must implement elements of the Kubiak offense into their current offense.
The Ravens need to get Flacco a star receiver. I am tired of receivers in their 30’s coming to Baltimore with a “That’s the best we could do” contract. I loved Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin and Steve Smith Sr. as much as anybody, but let’s get the next big thing for a change. The reasons the Steelers won the division is that they have elite play makers surrendering their franchise quarterback. Give Flacco the help, or have another frustrating season, that’s the reality for the Ravens.
We may be tired of giving Flacco excuses but the franchise has practically handed them to him. The Ravens have a quarterback with a history of winning. More than a handful of NFL teams are looking for that. Flacco and the Ravens have to move forward whether you like it or not.