During the Ravens’ 2010 season, did you find yourself, time and again, screaming at your television, begging Joe Flacco to, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MAN, GET RID OF THE BALL?
I know I did.
Flacco, for all the progress he made during his third NFL season – he set career highs in every meaningful statistical category – still drove Ravens fans nuts with his indecisiveness in the pocket, taking what seemed like an unacceptable number of sacks. In fact, Joe was sacked 40 times, a career worst. Many blamed the poor play of the offensive line, and you’ll find no argument here that the big guys up front deserve their share of the blame.
However, it seems as though those of us chiding Joe for holding the ball too long were correct in our assessment as well.
J.J. Cooper over at Fanhouse timed every sack from the 2010 season, and the quarterback that came in dead last in number of sacks taken after more than three seconds in the pocket was…you guessed it, Baltimore, your very own Joe Flacco.
Baltimore’s Joe Flacco was actually the king of holding the ball too long in 2010. In logging the time of each and every sack in the NFL in 2010, Flacco’s 25 sacks of 3.1 seconds or more were five more than anyone else in the league.
I chose three seconds as the demarcation line because it’s a pretty fair cutoff point for where a sack can no longer be blamed on a quarterback’s blockers. The median sack time in the NFL last year was 2.7 seconds, just as it was in 2009. Obviously a line should be able to hold a three-man rush back longer than a eight-man all-out blitz, but for practical purposes, three seconds is the point where a quarterback should generally know that he has to get rid of the ball.
According to Cooper, Flacco took 25 sacks where he had at least three seconds to survey the field. This was five more than the second place finisher, a name that is synonymous, to many NFL observers, with boneheadedness when it comes to getting rid of the football (and sexual assault) – Ben Roethlisberger.
Had Roethlisberger played the entire season (instead of only 12 games), he likely would have been closer to Flacco’s total. Still, it doesn’t seem like a favorable comparison for Joe. Ben has a reputation for holding the ball too long and taking some unnecessary sacks, sure, but he is also known for extending plays juuuuust long enough to turn a near-sack into a game-changing positive for his team (something we know all too well here in B’More).
Joe? Not so much. He showed some improved pocket awareness and elusiveness last season, but how often did his avoiding a rusher lead immediately to a huge play? Much more often was the case that Joe would sidestep a tackler, then proceed to either throw the ball away out of bounds or fall forward for a negligible gain.
Roethlisberger has earned the right to take too many sacks, by putting together a career of extended-play highlights. Flacco just flat out needs to get rid of the damn ball.
With all this hating on Joe, you may forget that we’re still 100% Wacko for Flacco here at the Nest. As I’ve been saying though – and this latest piece of data only underscores the point – a main focus for Joe during this offseason needs to be getting the ball out sooner, and shortening his throwing motion.
Hell, even Ben did it.