- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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What he doesn't want to hear is excuses, and what he doesn't want to see is repeated mistakes.
In a span of a year, Flacco went from being the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player to the quarterback of the NFL's 29th-ranked offense, which was the team's worst offensive ranking in nine years.
Flacco is putting the pressure on the Ravens to not only grasp Gary Kubiak's new offense but run it effectively and efficiently.
"I don't care if its' a new offense or not. I expect to come out there and be precise and operate at a high level," Flacco said two days before the Ravens' official start of training camp. "This is where it counts. We've got a couple of weeks and we're going to be playing real games. We have to execute at a high level in order to win those because they're going to come down to little things like that. That's why we can't expect and make little mistakes."
Flacco and his teammates had 13 offseason practices to learn the new system, and the offense has been installed three different times. Now, the Ravens have 16 days until their first preseason game and 47 days until the regular-season opener against the AFC North defending champion Cincinnati Bengals.
A lack of productivity with the Ravens offense hurt the team's chances of a seventh straight trip to the playoffs. In the Ravens' eight losses, they averaged 17.7 points and scored 20 or fewer points seven times.
This led to an offseason of change on the offensive side of the ball. The Ravens hired Kubiak as their offensive coordinator, signed wide receiver Steve Smith in free agency and added center Jeremy Zuttah and right tackle Ricky Wagner to the starting lineup.
"Yeah, we're still going to make mistakes but they have to be corrected quickly and you can't keep making them again and again," Flacco said. "You have to come out here right after that, and that mistake should be gone. I think we can expect a pretty high level of pace and I think we can expect a pretty high level of precision being that we've done it for a couple of months. That's what I'm going to expect."
Flacco said learning a new offense for the first time in his NFL career is "fun" and "exciting." When driving over to the Ravens' facility, he and Tyrod Taylor were jokingly reciting the cadence to make sure they remembered how to say it.
"I think we've passed the test," Flacco said with a smile.
Flacco acknowledged that the toughest part about adjusting to a new offense is wiping out everything that had become second nature in the old offense. He believes he has the athleticism to run bootlegs and can make all the throws required in the new system. The mental part, especially absorbing the terminology, remains the biggest hurdle.
Like Flacco said, there is little time to waste. And there's not an easy game for the offense in the first month of the season.
The first four defenses the Ravens face this season all ranked in the top half of the NFL: Cincinnati Bengals (No. 3), Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 13), Cleveland Browns (No. 9) and Carolina Panthers (No. 2).
That's why confidence is going to be key, Flacco said.
"If I show everybody else that they should execute at a high level and they will execute at a high level, I think we'll get that confidence to go out there on Sundays and kind of play with a little bit of swagger," Flacco said. "I think that's what it's going to take."
1dEric D. Williams
1dEric D. Williams