This is a hard article because I actually like the Ravens, and two of my best friends are Ravens fans, so I'm going to walk the proverbial razor's edge and write a severe critique.
The Baltimore Ravens are easily one of the best franchises in the league in terms of organization, drafting, maneuvering, and solid coaching.
However, the Ravens have never had what anyone would call a real quarterback that can win a game by himself; that is rely on him consistently to pass their way to victory.
This is a team that took Trent Dilfer to a world championship and further proved to the world that the quarterback is a player, he's not the team.
However, this current Ravens team has been tweaked to where the quarterback is asked to shine like Christmas lights. The only problem is I don't see anyone saying, "Ho ho ho!"
We as a football society which is the fans, the writers, the people who read up on sports in general, have had our eyebrows raised in approval at the moves the Baltimore Ravens have made.
Despite losing Bart Scott, they have managed to keep Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis as Ravens. They have added an amazing running back in Ray Rice, a new offensive tackle in Michael Oher, and have given Joe Flacco real offensive weapons.
The trade of a third and fourth round draft picks for a number one wide receiver in Anquan Boldin really was the biggest improvement made by any team in the offense.
Now, you look at those receivers including T.J. Houshmandzedah, Derrick Mason, and Donte Stallworth, you see that this is quite an arsenal of weapons.
Everyone, including me, thought that Flacco would dominate once he had weapons. The assumption was made that he was already a quarterback who could operate a high-powered offense AKA elite, and once he got that system, the Ravens are a Super Bowl pick.
What if that's not the case? To assume something is dangerous, and this assumption may be wrong because what if Joe Flacco just isn't ready?
I know Flacco has three playoff wins in the books, but lets not just be satisfied with a simple stat and look inside the stat itself.
His first playoff win came against the Dolphins in 2008. In that game he was 9/23 for 135 yards and no turnovers. He did scored, but he did that by running five yards for a touchdown.
The Ravens won that game 27-9. The first touchdown was an interception return by Ed Reed, and the Ravens didn't have an offensive touchdown the first half. They finally scored two touchdowns in the second half, both short runs.
Also, the Ravens forced five turnovers in that game along with three sacks. The offense also had 143 yards rushing besides Joe Flacco's eight yards. That team did not need him to have a big day to win, they needed him to just not screw up.
Not screwing up isn't the definition of being an elite quarterback. An elite quarterback doesn't just manage the game, he takes the game over. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Philip Rivers are examples of that.
Granted, Flacco was a rookie, and the next week, the Ravens upset the Titans 13-10 in Nashville, but I watched that game, that was the defense forcing turnovers in the redzone, which wasted the clock.
A further examination of that game is that Flacco was an even 50-50 on his passes, going 11/22 for 161 yards and a touchdown.
Good performance, not a great performance. He did a good job, but the Ravens forced three turnovers, all of them critical. Now, Flacco was the main offensive weapon since the Ravens only had 45 yards rushing besides Flacco's five yards, but the score of 13-10 is a defensive wrestling match.
That game was so close, not just in score, but if you just watch the game, you'd see that a first down here, or preventing a turnover there would have altered the game dramatically.
Flacco was good, but elite? No.
The last playoff game is what really makes me wonder. I'm not some idiot savant that can remember every statistic of every playoff game known to man, but I'm willing to bet that this playoff game the Ravens won over the Patriots was one of the top five worst games of any quarterback in the postseason of the 2000s decade.
And here's the thing: THEY WON ANYWAY!
Flacco, who was injured at the time, was awful. He threw the ball 10 times, and completed only four of his passes, and still managed an interception.
The Ravens won because Ray Rice and Willis McGahee combined for 221 yards rushing, and the defense intercepted and sacked Tom Brady three times each. Just a total domination of the Patriots while proving you don't need a quarterback to win a game.
I know Flacco was injured, and I'm faulting him for that, but I am saying that the world shouldn't just see the fact that he was the quarterback of the winning team, and just assume he was the X factor.
For the offense they have planned, he has to be that X-factor though.
Look at his first two games this season. He's thrown one touchdown to five interceptions and 383 yards in two starts.
Granted, the Ravens has some terrible calls against them in the Bengals game, but four picks in that one game really? I saw the film too. He threw some bad passes, and the Bengals out did them on defense.
He was asked to try and excel, and he didn't even manage the game. As harsh as it sounds, it is true. He threw the ball 39 times, completed only 17 passes for 154 yards.
Carson Palmer, the Bengals quarterback, managed his team effectively even though he went 16/35 for 167 yards himself. The difference is that Palmer didn't throw four picks.
The Ravens are playing the Browns, and I think they will win, but the point still stands that I'm getting the feeling that this might not be the Ravens year because I'm wondering if Joe Flacco has improved enough to make this their year.
Questions? Announcements? Comments? Complaints? Look below, just no insults please. I want to be civil.