There’s a lot of buzz in Baltimore about Joe Flacco right now. In fact, it seems like everybody is talking about Joe Flacco, except for one person, and that person is Joe Flacco. The addition of quarterbacks Robert Griffin during the off season, and Lamar Jackson during the draft, coupled with Flacco’s silence on the selection, has everybody ready to declare that after a decade with the team, Joe Cool is being tossed aside. Throw in the fact that Flacco’s unprecedented for its time contract is up after next year, and you’d think the dude is done, right? Well I think not quite, and I’ll tell you why.
I’m not going to speculate as to why a guy who rarely talks anyway, hasn’t commented on the new QBs, or spoken to Lamar Jackson yet. Instead, let’s take a timeout to look back on the highlights, and lowlights, of Mr. Flacco’s career, from his uni-brow – I MEAN UNI-VERSITY – days, to right now.
Joe Flacco began his college football career at the University of Pittsburgh but left the school and the steel city after two years, which was his first excellent decision. In 2007 at the University of Delaware, Flacco was regarded as one of college football’s most accurate passers. Note that while Lamar Jackson has many athletic qualities, he struggled with accuracy through his college career. Flacco ended up setting 20 records during his career as a Blue Hen. He graduated from blue to purple when the Ravens picked him at 18 during the 2008 NFL draft. (You’ll recall that the team picked Jackson at the final slot in the first round, and had already picked another player prior to that selection, indicating that we didn’t draft a QB in the first round because we’re over Flacco; we drafted a QB in the first round because Ozzie Newsome is a cold hard genius).
Flacco rushes right into his new job – literally – in the 2008 season opener, a divisional game no less, against the Bengals, and scores an impressive 38-yard rushing touchdown, eventually leading the Ravens to victory. During his very first NFL game. He has no mentors on the team in the position, as Kyle Boller is injured, and generally just a total dud anyway. Flacco gives us a taste of his playoff prowess as a rookie, taking the team all the way to the AFC Championship Game, which the Ravens lose to the Steelers. Flacco’s honors this year include AFC Offensive Player of the Week, NFL Rookie of the Week, NFLPA Rookie of the Week NFL Rookie of the Month, and Diet Pepsi NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR.
Flacco wins another season opener in his second NFL year as a Raven. The Ravens break the franchise records for total offensive yards during this game. The Ravens secure a wildcard playoff berth and BEAT THE PATRIOTS, but lose in the divisional round to the Colts.
Year 3 for Flacco: he opens the season on the road, AND WINS ON THE ROAD against the Jets. In week 2, Flacco’s performance suffers against the Bengals, but he comes in back in week 3 at home against the Browns. This is when cannon arm Joe finds his trusty target, Anquan Boldin, for 3 touchdowns. FLACCO TAKES THE TEAM TO THE PLAYOFFS AGAIN THIS YEAR! After beating the Chiefs in the wildcard game, Flacco is now the first quarterback in the history of the NFL to start and win a playoff game in all 3 of his first seasons. The Ravens fall to the Steelers in the divisional round when TJ Houshmandzadeh drops a perfect pass from Joe at the end of the game
In 2011, Flacco had FOUR 300 plus yard regular games. He sweeps the black and yellow wearing arch nemesis for the first time. He utterly slays the playoffs and in the AFC Championship game, makes Tom Brady look like a little leaguer. The Ravens fall to the Patriots anyway when Lee Evans drops a dart and Billy Cundiff cundiffs a chip shot field goal. On a personal note, I have stopped trying to work through my feelings on this game and have come to terms with the fact that for the rest of my life, I will never get over it (in fact I had to take a 5 minute break from writing after recalling this horrific night).
Calling a 30 second timeout to reflect on the 2012 season. Joe Flacco completes a 70-yard touchdown pass postseason to Jacoby Jones which is now known as the Mile High Miracle and as one of the greatest plays in NFL history. He beats the almighty elite Tom Brady in the AFC Championship round. THE MAN GOES ON TO WIN A WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP/SUPER BOWL RING/LOMBARDI TROPHY FOR BALTIMORE AND IS HAILED AS THE SUPER BOWL MVP (“I get a car? I get a car!”). Let me say that again: YOUR BALTIMORE RAVENS BECOME WORLD CHAMPIONS WITH MOST VALUABLE PLAYER JOE FLACCO AT THE HELM. Flacco ties 2 of JOE MONTANA’s records this postseason. Are all you spoiled Baltibrats for real forgetting this? Not every team has a quarterback who won them a Super Bowl.
Here’s where people start to fall off the Whacko for Flacco train. Right after the Super Bowl, Flacco [goes to McDonald’s and then] gets this never before seen 120.6 million dollar deal that makes him the highest paid quarterback in history. This is sort of the beginning of the end for him, because now he has to prove he’s worth that kind of money.
After the Super Bowl and the contract, 2013 reeks for Joe Flacco. He throws 22 picks compared to just 19 touchdowns. He is sacked 48 times. He misses the playoffs for the first time ever. This is the year the Raven’s give beloved Super Bowl slot receiver to Coach’s brother. Torrey Smith is soon to be next in line a year later, and also in 2014, Jacoby Jones is released.
That year, Flacco loses his first home opener. Nevertheless, he proceeds to have a great season. He takes the team to the playoffs and beats those stinkin stingin bumble bees for the first time in the post season at heinous Heinz. To recap, Flacco is now the first QB in the history of pro football to start and win a playoff games in 6 of their 7 first seasons. Flacco is invited to the Pro Bowl but turns it down because he has a baby on the way. This is only 4 years ago.
2015 is total brutality. Flacco starts 0-2 and then tears his ACL and MCL. We’re all doing everything we can to forget this season.
Flacco is struggling to regain fan favor ever since his knee injury. The Ravens miss the playoffs in 2016 and to make matters worse, Flacco’s back injury is announced in summer 2017. He sits out for all of training camp and preseason. Everyone is frightened and losing faith in Flacco. He starts the regular season but appears to be timid. The Ravens slap us with a short pass offensive scheme and no one can understand why we aren’t using Flacco’s long arm. We all hate the checkdown, but I’m about to give you a reality checkdown anyway: the Ravens ran that offense at least in part due to the lack of receivers for Flacco. Breshad Perriman sticks out as being not quite the catch he was said to be. Flacco gets blamed for interceptions and incompletions. He needs to complete those passes, but he has no one to throw to and holes in his offensive line. I don’t know why everyone is so eager to pull the trigger on our proven Super Bowl winner when we finally have some fresh blood at tight end, veteran wideout Michael Crabtree, and receiver Willie Snead. We’re hearing that he’s old, he’s hurt, but Tom Brady is like 200 years old and all of these guys play hurt all the time, they can bounce back sometimes. Joe Flacco is a human – a human who is better at football than most other humans – and humans have setbacks. Maybe it would be helpful to show him support instead of negativity. After all, none of us really know how this is going to play out. Now that Bazooka Joe isn’t our only offensive weapon, let’s see if he can fire off some bullets in 2018 while he trains Lamar Jackson to takeover – when the time is right.