There used to be a huge debate within the NFL community whether Joe Flacco was an elite quarterback. That question has become sort of a joke in recent years because Flacco has been nothing short of awful the past few years. Baltimore has even soured on Flacco drafting their quarterback of the future, Lamar Jackson, this year in the first round. The pressure is on the former Super Bowl MVP to play his tail off in 2018 or he is going to be sent out of town in a hurry. Will the pressure make or break Joe Flacco in 2018?
On my phone, when I try to spell out Flacco, it autocorrects to Flaccid. No word describes Joe Flacco better. Flacco is still completing over 60 percent of his throws with ease but the Ravens offense has grown stale. Flacco averaged 5.3 yards per pass in 2018 which ranked dead last a year ago. A lot of people just think Flacco just flat out isn’t good but that really isn’t the case. The biggest problem with Flacco is that he just doesn’t really care, or what we would call the Jay Cutler effect. Let me explain.
Joe Flacco’s first 4 years in the league, Baltimore was a consistent playoff force. The Ravens won 54 games during that stretch which was the most for any quarterback during the first four years of a quarterback’s career. Add in 9 playoff wins for Flacco during that span puts the former first-round pick from Deleware in the hall of fame discussion if he kept up that pace, right? Flacco was a young and hungry quarterback on a rookie contract playing at a competent level. Flacco was a 20+ touchdown guy per year during that time. The ice in his veins during the playoffs is what really made Flacco special. During his contract year, you can’t do much better than an 11-0 touchdown to interception ratio capping off a Super Bowl championship.
Since then, Flacco has been a mess minus the lone year with Gary Kubiak. 52 touchdowns the past three years is horrendous. His yards per attempt has gone from 6.1 to 6.0 to 5.3. His sack percentage has gone way down for one simple reason, he throws 2 yard passes so he doesn’t get hit. It’s hard not to blame him when he’s making so much money. Flacco’s play was lackadaisical after he signed the contract extension in 2013 but his annual salary has only gone up since due to Ozzie Newsome’s horrendous cap management. Newsome kept restructuring Flacco’s deal to fix the team in the short term and has only made thing’s worse. Is there any reason the Ravens quarterback should have a cap figure higher than $31 million! Anyone who has watched the Ravens over the years can see the lack of effort from Flacco but things are different in 2018.
“I expect Joe to have a career year this year, and for him to lead our team into the playoffs,” safety Eric Weddle
2018 will be the resurgence of Motivated Joe. The Ravens have invested more in the quarterback position for the first time in Flacco’s Ravens tenure. Lamar Jackson was drafted to be the future. Robert Griffin was signed to be Jackson’s mentor. Both Jackson and Griffin have similar playing styles which make for a similar playbook with both quarterbacks. The guy who drafted Joe Flacco, Ozzie Newsome, is retiring. John Harbaugh is on the hot seat. Everything is moving away from Flacco. Motivated Joe has to bring it week in and week out or else he could be benched at any moment. This has lit a fire under Flacco’s ass.
Motivated Joe is back. Motivated Joe is back so much that he even cares about the preseason now! What is going on! In two preseason games, Flacco has gone 12/16, 143 yards, and two touchdowns. I’m the first one that will say that the preseason is garbage but Flacco is putting on a show. On the flip side, Lamar Jackson couldn’t look worse. Through three preseason games, Jackson is 18/43 (42 percent), 4.7 yards per throw, two passing touchdowns, and one INT. Coming from a guy who wouldn’t speak to Jackson during training camp, Flacco has to be smiling ear to ear.
2018 will be the season that makes or breaks Flacco. Is motivated Joe really here to stay or will Flacco fall apart because of the pressure?