As much as the Ravens have struggled, as hard as they’ve been to watch, they’re still very much in it. The offense has struggled but this team still relies on Joe Flacco under center.
Somehow, through all the inconsistencies, the Baltimore Ravens are right in the thick of the AFC playoff race. The Ravens will almost certainly not catch the Steelers in the AFC North but are in the driver’s seat for the second wild-card spot.
The one player that’s received the most blame for the team’s offensive struggles this season has been quarterback Joe Flacco. It’s been justified, as Joe has performed poorly and we all know the narrative. Flacco hasn’t played well since his Super Bowl season in 2012, taking away 2014 as an outlier, of course.
But let us not forget, Joe has never been great. He has never been an Aaron Rogers type talent, nor a Brady type of passionate player. However, Flacco does play his best ball when it counts the most. I don’t know what happens, but something clicks in him when it matters most.
Last year against the Dolphins, in a must-win game, Flacco led the offense to a dominant performance against a playoff team. Against the Steelers, in the biggest game of the year for the division, he played excellently. He and the offense did all they could as Dean Pee’s swiss cheese defense let the Steelers drive the ball down the field for the game-winning score.
This year, the veteran signal-caller has a stout defense that can carry him to the playoffs. But if the playoffs are a possibility, we have to see him step up. There will be some games later this season that Flacco will have to win. We have seen Joe step at the biggest moments and it’s time for him to do it again.
The Ravens don’t win the Super Bowl in 2012. without his play. He played well enough to get them to a Super Bowl the year before but a Lee Evans drop and Billy Cundiff miss did the Ravens in. They also don’t beat the Steelers in the 2014 playoffs without Flacco. They don’t have a shot against New England that same year without him.
I have been Flacco’s biggest critic since that Super Bowl. I don’t think he’s played well enough for the Ravens. Injuries are no longer an excuse for him. He has a good offensive line and a great defense. He hasn’t even been an average quarterback since Gary Kubiak left after the 2014 season.
But through all of this, we have seen Flacco step up when the weather gets cold and when the games start to mean the most. The Ravens will have to make the playoffs first but if they do, watch out. This team can make a lot of noise. If Flacco’s play can take an extra step forward, the Ravens can compete for a Super Bowl title.
We tend to forget that Flacco has played his best games when it means the most and rightfully so. Watching him during the regular season isn’t easy on the eye, but don’t forget about that switch that goes off in his head in the big games.
It all starts this week with a big game against the Lions and then an even bigger game at the Steelers. We will see who shows up: Winter Joe, or Regular Joe.