Friday, November 8, 2013
Flacco: It's tough to be 'Superman' in NFL
By Jamison Hensley
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has been criticized for not being able to carry over his play from a magical Super Bowl run and not living up to one of the biggest contracts in NFL history.
His 79.3 passer rating ranks 24th in the NFL, just below rookie EJ Manuel. He's thrown nine interceptions, and only five quarterbacks have been picked off more. While there have been reasons for this disappointing season -- no pass protection and no running game -- Flacco has been scrutinized for his inability to elevate the play of those around him like an Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady.
Flacco was asked if it's been a challenge not to try to do too much.
"It’s tough in the NFL to go out there and try to be Superman. It’s just impossible to do that," Flacco said. "So, I think that kind of keeps you in check and allows you to go out there and just play your game. It’s frustrating when you’re running off the field, and you’re not getting first downs, and you’re not scoring points. And that obviously has something to do with it -- not being able to get that going -- but we’ve got to be better in other parts of our game in order to help that out and in order to overcome that in certain times. We haven’t been able to get it going enough, and we haven’t been able to overcome it enough when it hasn’t worked for us.”
The popular -- and honestly, wrong -- argument is Flacco hasn't fulfilled the expectations that come with signing a six-year, $120.6 million contract. Flacco earned that contract by carrying the Ravens offense to a Super Bowl, throwing 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in one of the best playoff runs ever for an NFL quarterback. If the Ravens weren't going to pay him, I can name six teams (Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs) that would've raced to their checkbook to sign Flacco.
No one was saying Flacco was underpaid when won the Super Bowl while earning $4.6 million in base salary, which was one-quarter of what Peyton Manning earned last year. So, no one should clamor that Flacco is being overpaid now, especially when you consider the circumstances.
Flacco is playing behind a bad offensive line, is getting no help from the NFL's 29th-ranked run game and is throwing to a largely new group of receivers. What has hurt Flacco the most is the increased defensive pressure has come in the same year when his two most-trusted receivers (Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta) are not on the field.
All of this has resulted in Flacco's first losing record (3-5) at the midway point of the season. The Ravens' last four losses have been decided by a total of 14 points.
"I just think we haven’t played consistently enough to give ourselves those chances to win the game," Flacco said. "Before, if we were playing a lot of close games, we were giving ourselves chances and playing well, and eventually we were having a play go our way. This year, we just haven’t played well enough to earn the right to go win the game.”