About This �Flacco Sure Shut Up His Critics� Thing
Special Commentary by PalmerSucks
January 26, 2012
First, a special shout-out to our good friend and Ravens fan �EdReed20.� Now granted, Ed only shows up on our boards when the Ravens win, but I�d like to say hi anyway. Hope you had a great weekend of football-watching bud � here�s to you, Ed, wherever that bed is you�re hiding under! Oh and one more thing � he�s still garbage.
OK then, on to the more important stuff�
For a guy not going to the Super Bowl, Joe Flacco sure is getting a lot of praise. Judging from the message boards, Ravens fans were pretty pleased with him, and no less than the opposing town�s media outlet, Boston.com, ran a piece this week called �Joe Flacco silences critics with solid effort.�
First of all, I�d ask, how far does a �solid effort� go toward changing people�s opinions of you � although considering it�s Average Joe we�re talking about, things are pretty relative. But did Flacco really prove anything Sunday, especially in a losing effort?
The numbers look good: 22 of 36 for 306 yards, 2 TDs and a 95.4 rating. Compared with Flacco�s usual playoff numbers, that�s more than good � it�s downright Hall of Fame. (Flacco said after the game he �always plays this way�; better check those lifetime playoff stats again, bud.)
Flacco huggers will point to the stats plus the fact he nearly led them to a stunning last-minute win, or the fact he �outdueled� Tom Brady. So then, anyone who�s ever criticized Average Joe can shut the pie hole now. Because Flacco�s officially �arrived� as a contending NFL quarterback.
To which I have three little words: �not so fast.�
Yes, Flacco threw for more than 300 yards against the New England defense. Guess who else did it? The great Dan Orlovsky. Guess who else? Rex Grossman. Guess who else? Chad Henne. You could fill up a list of QB�s you�d never take on your fantasy team with guys who�ve put up three bills on the toasty New England secondary. Passing for 300 on the Patriots is like tying your shoes, only it takes a couple of hours of film study.
That Brady had an off-game � far from being a positive for Flacco � only looks worse for Average Joe. For here was a game for the taking, a game begging for Flacco to take over, against the second-worst pass defense in football, on a day when the other guys� normally high-scoring offense got stuck in the mud. If the Ravens had lost on day when Brady had thrown 6 TD passes, you could say it wouldn�t have mattered what Flacco did. But that simply wasn�t the case � the Ravens� offense needed to score just 24 points to win.
They failed to score that many thanks largely to three huge blunders by �Shut Up the Critics Boy� Joe Flacco:
--On a bootleg Flacco had Torrey Smith running BEHIND the entire Patriots� defense, and short-armed the throw. There was no pressure on Flacco, he simply underthrew it. The play went for 42 yards, but would�ve been a touchdown with more depth on the pass. Instead the Ravens settled for a field goal.
--On a later play Flacco again had Smith running away from the defense, but threw up a wild prayer that had no chance of success. Had he hit Smith there was no chance of him being caught from behind. This took away an easy touchdown.
--Down by the goal line, Flacco somehow missed his wide-open fullback inside the 5 for what should�ve been a walk-in TD. Instead he tried to blast a pass to a well-covered receiver in the end zone -- incomplete. Again, the Ravens come up with 3 instead of 7.
You hear a lot of talk from Ravens fans about Flacco�s receivers dropping his passes. You never hear about things from the opposite side. If Flacco makes any one of these three plays, the Ravens are going to the Super Bowl. Instead, they�ll be watching from their couches.
What�s more, Flacco was Flacco in the playoffs � he again gave up the trademark turnover late in the game. This time he hit Patriots� linebacker Brandon Spikes, who returned the ball to midfield. That�s right � Flacco made what would�ve been the game-losing play, except for two ridiculous occurrences that bailed him out.
First, the Patriots called for a ridiculous bomb to a seldom-used receiver � into double-coverage --when they should�ve been eating up the rest of the clock looking for the clinching score. Then, the Ravens secondary made a ridiculous play to snare a pick, one DB getting a fingertip on the ball, batting it somehow to his teammate. Are you kidding me?
So instead of blowing yet another AFC Championship game, Flacco gets off scot-free, ball back in his hands and time still on the clock. Seconds earlier, I�d been reading posts on the �net saying �game over� � now it was anything but. Lucky break for Flacco, but spare me the �he sure shut you up� line, mmkay? Flacco got a second chance through the efforts of others, not his own.
Yes, kudos to Joe for leading that almost-was last drive, shades of the 92-yard Heinz Field debacle. But again � think about the defense he was facing. The Patriots were so desperate for healthy bodies, they had back-up wide receiver Julian Edelman in at CB � I wondered what was coming next, Rob Gronkowski at safety? Likewise, the guy who broke up the TD pass had been fished out of the Raiders� trash can (speaking of desperate).
Another fact: the Ravens began calling designed roll-outs because they lost confidence in Flacco�s ability to throw from the pocket. The 42-yarder to Smith caught New England totally by surprise � thanks to the ineptitude of Joe Flacco.
Flacco also got away with what could�ve been the SECOND game-ending pick; he forced the ball into coverage on the game�s final third down. Instead of taking a short sack (which wouldn�t have affected the kick) he tried to jam it to his receiver. Again, more blind luck.
Like I said in my last commentary, the stage couldn�t have been set any better for Flacco to shine through Sunday. Here was his chance to take command and break through to the Bowl. He put up some decent stats, sure, but last I looked, the Ravens will be watching the game the same way you will be. The bottom line: Flacco had a decent passing day in a game that called for a little more than decent. Average Joe chose to be good rather than great.
So if you�re a Flacco hugger, you point to his 300-yard effort. If you�re me, you point to the 4th-quarter interception. FlaccoFlacco�ed again � only this time he got bailed out. As far as I�m concerned, nothing�s changed: Average Joe was still himself to the end.But like I said, there�s no shortage of praise for him � especially in Baltimore.
Of course, all this Flacco love thrills me� already there�s talk of extending Flacco�s contract. Yes, with any luck, Average Joe Flacco could be wearing the purple for a good long time.
Who said this season was a total loss?