And the plot thickens….
With Troy Smith coming down with a nasty case of tonsillitis (to go along with his previously diagnosed condition of “Isuckatfootballitis”) and Kyle Boller feeling the effects of being body slammed in the 2nd preseason game, all of B’More got a shock when we heard that Joe Flacco would get the start the other night in St. Louis.
Now I don’t know about you, but when I was watching the start of the game, it was through my “bad QB goggles” that I have been conditioned to have on during Ravens games over the past decade. I saw a guy overthrow some receivers, miss some passes, and was quick to dismiss him as more of the same. But as the game went on, both Joe’s nerves and my preconceived notions of purple signal callers eased a bit.
By the time Flacco hit Derrick Mason with that 15 yard touchdown pass to open the 2nd half, I was a full fledged fan of Flacco, ready to hand him the starting spot on September 7 against Cincinnati.
Alright, maybe not QUITE. But Flacco certainly didn’t show us that he was any worse than our other two “options” at this point. On the contrary, Joe actually looked like a real NFL quarterback, which is something nobody is saying about Troy or Kyle right now. When was the last time you saw a Ravens QB actually execute a successful pump fake (without dropping the ball) AND complete the pass? Sure, he slightly overthrew the ball for Clayton and underthrew the one to Mason, but that kind of thing is to be expected when you aren’t getting many reps in practice with those guys. Hell, for all we know, Flacco is used to running that play with Yamon Figurs (who is certainly a half step faster than Clayton) lined up to his left.
John Harbaugh didn’t really say that the QB race is now back to 3, but he didn’t really deny it either. But with Boller and Smith still nursing their respective maladies, Joe took all the reps with the starters at practice today.
So what are we to expect Thursday? Who knows at this point? Flacco may find himself the starter by default again, in which case a continuation of his 2nd half performance in St. Louis may make things just that much more difficult for Coach Harbaugh.
Ravens fans shudder at the thought of starting a rookie quarterback again. “We’ve seen this movie before,” is the overwhelming sentiment, referencing Kyle Boller in 2003. Maybe putting Kyle in as a rookie really is what made him the player he is today. But maybe, just maybe, Kyle Boller was destined to be Kyle Boller the career backup all along. The decision on Flacco should not be made based on decisions made by a different set of coaches with a different player. The league is littered with former first round picks that are teetering on “bust” status. Just this week we saw Matt Leinart and Alex Smith both lose their jobs. For every Peyton Manning, there are countless David Carrs, for certain. But every situation needs to be looked at individually.
Flacco supporters will point to Atlanta naming Matt Ryan their opening day starter and say “Well, if he can do it, why can’t Joe?”
Well, Atlanta has a couple things going for them that the Ravens don’t.
There are absolutely no expectations on Ryan to win anything this year. The Falcons know what they are, and would probably consider a 5 win season a “success.” The Ravens, despite what members of the B’More media and others will tell you, see themselves as a little closer to a .500 team, at least. Starting a rookie QB would put that pressure on him immediately.
Perhaps more importantly, Atlanta feels confident that their offensive line can protect Ryan to the point that he doesn’t become another David Carr, who it is widely agreed upon that the 76 sacks he suffered his rookie year are why he was never any good. The Ravens obviously have no such luxury. The line did not play terrible Saturday night, but they need to show some more consistency before it is worth risking their investment back there in a game that counts.
So, with that in mind, lets lay out the few things that should need to happen for Joe Flacco to start an NFL regular season game any time before, say, November.
- The team must be losing. Something to the tune of 1-3, 0-4 would be necessary. If Kyle Boller or Troy Smith are winning games, or at least keeping the team competitive, then let whoever it may be stay under center.
- During said losses, Ravens QBs must not be running for their lives. If the line is showing that they can reliably pass protect, then (and only then) maybe Flacco could benefit from some more game action.
- I’m not sure how we can enforce this one, but Ravens fans need to be kept from booing Flacco the first time he makes a bad decision or fumbles a snap. I’ve already heard grumblings around town this week that “Flacco is a bust.” Seriously, Ravens fans? Please tell me that we are smarter than this. Dollars to donuts says it’s the same fools saying this that embarrassed the entire city on national television by cheering when Boller got hurt. And the ones that booed him last week after he threw his first incompletion on his 9th pass. Perhaps Joe should leave his iPod on when he takes the field.
The saga continues this Thursday….