Wednesday, September 11, 2013
QB Watch: Ravens' Joe Flacco
By Jamison Hensley
A weekly analysis of the Ravens' quarterback play:
Rewind: In Week 1, Joe Flacco didn't look like the same quarterback who starred in last season's playoffs, but he didn't have the same supporting cast. Tight ends Dallas Clark and Ed Dickson dropped passes, and rookie right tackle Rick Wagner got beat for three sacks after replacing the injured Michael Oher. The pressure forced Flacco into overthrowing his targets at times. The play calling didn't help Flacco either. He threw 62 times, eight shy of the NFL record.
Fast-forward: Flacco is 10-0 against the Browns, who visit Baltimore on Sunday. His statistics against Cleveland aren't gaudy, though. He has averaged 203 yards passing with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. Last season, both of Flacco's touchdowns against Cleveland went to Torrey Smith but the leading receiver in both games was Anquan Boldin. The Ravens are going to have to be wary of the Browns' upgraded pass rush, and the return of Oher (ankle injury) would solidify the offensive line.
Period of adjustment: Defenses aren't going to let Smith beat them deep, so Flacco is going to have to work the short and intermediate routes. It would be different if Flacco had Boldin and Dennis Pitta. Flacco has to learn he can't throw into tight coverage like he did with them. He was picked off twice when he did so in Denver and nearly had a third pass intercepted. It's going to take time for Flacco to build chemistry with Clark and Brandon Stokley.
Prediction: Flacco is a different quarterback when playing at home. Since 2010, he has averaged 250 yards passing with 38 touchdowns and 13 interceptions at M&T Bank Stadium. While the Ravens usually beat Cleveland with running back Ray Rice, Flacco usually comes through with above-average performances at home.