A More Confident And Dangerous Joe Flacco In 2013?

By Jeremy Hritz

Watching the Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl this past January wasn’t an easy thing to do for the Pittsburgh Steelers. In fact, the entirety of the 2012 Ravens playoff series was difficult to watch because of the clutch play of oft-scrutinized quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco’s performance in the playoffs was outstanding, throwing 11 touchdowns without any interceptions, not to mention making several explosive plays that in some cases were the difference between winning and losing. With his performance, he asserted himself as an upper echelon player at the position.

Up until the postseason, Flacco was criticized for not being able to put his team on his shoulders and lead them to victory, as the Ravens struggled at the end of the season, losing 4 out of 5 games, including one in Baltimore to the Steelers. Nonetheless, Flacco silenced his critics and demonstrated the confidence and poise essential to being a championship quarterback in the playoffs.

Is the Joe Flacco that was on display this past postseason the one that the Steelers will now see twice a year? Or will he return to his inconsistent ways? There is no question which version the Steelers want to see.

Flacco’s overall record against the Steelers since he came into the league in 2008 is 5-7, and in his last four contests against the Steelers, he is 3-1. In 2012 against the Steelers, he didn’t post a quarterback rating higher than a 62.5, nor did he pass for 200 or more yards. But, you have to wonder, with a Super Bowl championship notched in his belt, will his play elevate to a new level, making the Ravens an even more formidable opponent?

Recently on the NFL Network, Ryan Clark chimed in on Flacco and whether or not he believes him to be an elite NFL quarterback after his postseason performance and his 19th overall ranking on the top 100. Clark said, “I can be honest, going into the two games playing [the Ravens], I wasn’t scared of Joe. I didn’t walk into the game thinking Joe was the focus of the offense or Joe was the guy we had to stop going into the game.” He continued, “The biggest question from me is seeing it week in and week out. I know he has a huge upside, I just want to see it every week.”

While Clark’s comments on Flacco were not as damning as LaMarr Woodley’s on the NFL Network a few years ago, they more than likely will end up as bulletin board material next season. While Clark does have a valid argument, and it is one that is shared by many, there is no denying the MVP performance of Flacco from the 2012 postseason.

While confidence is an intangible attribute that does not have a metric, throwing eleven touchdowns and playing mistake-free football en route to a Super Bowl championship seems to be a pretty solid indicator. If it is, and in fact Flacco has become more comfortable and confident in his abilities, then his stellar play could possibly carryover into the upcoming regular season, which could make it difficult for the Steelers to contend for the AFC North crown.

Flacco’s 2013 season will be an interesting story line, especially to see how he responds to losing Anquan Boldin. Will he take the next step in his development and be a player that the Steelers have to game plan for?  Or will he regress to his inconsistent ways of regular seasons gone by?

  • VaDave

    Like they say, it’s always better to let your play do the talking.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Flacco is extremely inconsistent. When we played them last year (in Baltimore) he looked like a rookie. No “confidence”. No “dangerous”. No “clutch”. Then in the playoffs he looked like an MVP. Why does he vary so much? I don’t know. But I would guess it is mental.

    Also, if you look at his playing style. He prefers to throw short safe dump off passes, then hurl up an occasional bomb and hope for the best. I believe he will still be able to follow that pattern somewhat successfully with Smith and Pitta and even Dickson, unless he is pressured.

    Last year, in the playoffs, nobody really hit him.

    Wild Card Game: Indy had 1 sack against him.

    Division Game: Denver had 1 sack.

    AFC Champ Game: New England had 2 sacks.

    Super Bowl: San Francisco had 2 sacks.

    Last year we played them twice. Game one: We hit him 4 times. Sacked him 2 times and barely lost. (with our back up QB) Game two: We hit him 6 times. Sacked him 3 times. And won. (with our back up QB).

    Translation… Hit Flacco a few times. Keep Ben healthy. And we sweep both games.

  • Jason

    The majority of Flacco’s big throws were lobs that Boldin went up and made difficult catches on and they shipped him off to SF for some baffling reason. I don’t see a reason for him to be more confident this year.

  • dgh57

    I think it’s going to be a more of battle between the Steelers and the Bengals this year for who wins the AFC North. How will the Ravens perform after having lost a lot of their key players from last year and how will Flacco do without Anquan Boldin are 2 BIG questions that will be answered this season! Plus the Ravens are going to have a big bullseye pointing their way as teams will be fired up to play them because of winning the SB! So confidence will only take you so far as outside influences will have a lot to say how he plays!

  • steves

    Getting to the QB is how a lot of games are won. If you sack them and rattle their nerves they will hear footsteps and start looking around to go down or bale out of the pocket.

  • SteelersNick

    Ben Roethlisberger threw more TDs in less games than Flacco, and he had less INTs. The Ratbirds had a lucky playoff run last season. A gift hail mary against the broncos allowed them to get a lucky win. Keep in mind that Charlie Batch beat the ratbirds and Byron Leftwich would have too if it wasn’t for a special teams blunder.

  • Brendon Glad

    Hey…Flacco stepped up big-time. He kind of stunned me with his post-season performance…but if we are going “elimination/game” and someone’s asking me if I’m taking Flacco or Big-Ben…I’m going with Big-Ben every single time…and without hesitation…even now.
    And that shouldn’t even be considered a “DIS” on Flacco. He’s already proven himself to be more “clutch” than Peyton Manning….I’m just saying I don’t fear him at all…as long as #7 is playing.

  • Don

    Can’t take it away from him- he played great when it counted the most, on the biggest stage. If I’m not mistaken, Flacco has been the Ravens starter for 5 years, WON a playoff game every year, and has never missed a start. How do you define elite? Maybe you like 300 yards per game from your QB even though the game ends in a loss. I don’t know, but I’m thinking Mr. Clark needs to shut up and do his job a little better before he too is history.

  • Don

    Right you are- lucky against Colts, lucky against Broncs in Denver, lucky against Brady in New England, and lucky against the 9ers. Your precious Ben cost the steelers games, I don’t care how many TDs he threw in those losses with the number 1 D.

  • Larry Brantley

    As a Ravens fan, I will say that there is validity to Clark’s statements. I’ve watched him, and he’s a smart guy. It’s not just smack talk. But I will also say, that Joe, is someone to never second guess. Over at BBD, a member wrote a fanpost titled, “Joe Flacco is a Robot”. I recommend it, it’s a good read. It talks about how his mind works. About how he has developed into a QB that once he makes a decision on the best possible chance to win play, he executes it no matter what, and many times it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Just watch the video during the Colts playoff game against us, when their were two of them (Colts) on the bench commenting on how he’s about to get slammed to the ground, and he just launches it no matter what. He doesn’t care.
    Then there are those who say, “well you lost Boldin, who’s he gonna go to now?” I say, we will find a way. That’s what the Ravens and Steelers do, find a way.
    My point is, that yes, he lays some eggs, but he also proves everyone wrong on one point each season. Maybe he just put the “can’t win a Superbowl” thing to rest, before the “He’s inconsistent” thing. Gotta have priorities.
    Point is, it would be foolish of anyone to second guess Joe. But its OK with me if they do.

  • IknowYouknow

    Ravens always have a lot of respect for Big Ben, if they don’t respect any other Steeler. It would behoove Clark and other Steelers players to realize that Flacco has essentially closed whatever gap existed between the Ravens and the Steelers.
    When he came into Heinz field and led a long game winning drive that resulted in a TD pass to Houshmanzedah, I knew he was ready. Gone was the wide eyed, young QB that was thrown into the fiercest rivalry in football. Again, he carved up the Steelers defense in game 1 of 2011, leading the Ravens to a blowout victory. Who can forget the 90-something yard game winning drive in Heinz field, capped off by a game wining TD to Torrey Smith. Whether we want to admit it or not, there’s no denying that Flacco has come of age, he’s a really good QB, he’s hurt the Steelers in the past and certainly has the capabilities to do it again.

  • IknowYouknow

    Same story that was told last year…..all the Ravens did was go out and win the SB. When would you people ever learn! Even with the worthless season the Steelers just had, I still expect them to compete.
    Ravens have been consistently in the playoffs for years now, just won the SB….and u expect them to fall off??? Do the Ravens look like a team that doesn’t know what they are doing? Every year, you dimwits line up and predict doom for the Ravens….please, calm your tits and watch the season play out.