For as much as it might be entertaining to poke fun at the Baltimore Ravens’ offense, and ‘elite’ quarterback Joe Flacco in particular, it does have to be acknowledged that the former Super Bowl MVP has been dealt about as ugly a hand as one can get this season when it comes to players that have been lost around him.
It is true that he does have one bedrock behind him—or more accurately, in front of him—in terms of a franchise left tackle in Ronnie Stanley. That is certainly nice to have. But he does not really have much else to work with, and it does show on the field.
Flacco has put up some of the worst numbers in the league so far through seven weeks, a number of them only better than the Browns’ rookie quarterback, DeShone Kizer, but right now the Ravens have been playing with a backup to their backup at right guard, as just one example of the chaos around them.
Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh has been pretty upbeat through it all, rather than downtrodden, which is personally a nice thing to see. The only time that he really seemed to be defeated by an injury was when All-Pro right guard Marshal Yanda went down for the season, and frankly I can’t blame him for that one.
At the moment, Flacco is playing behind an offensive line that features just one returning starter from last year, with the other four positions all being downgrades, even though career backup Ryan Jensen is supposedly doing better than anticipated at center.
It’s not surprising that he’s struggled, then. On Sunday, while he completed nearly 70 percent of his passes, he picked up just 186 yards on 39 attempts, averaging below five yards per throw. He did throw one touchdown to no interception—he has eight interceptions on the year to five touchdowns—but only led the offense to 16 points.
“I don’t have my grade book with me, but Joe has done a great job through all of” the injuries and chaos around him, Harbaugh said this week. “There’s been a lot of adversity, and for the quarterback to shoulder that…Joe is mature, he’s tough, he’s tough-minded, and he just deals with it”.
It’s one thing to “deal with it”, and it is another to do well. He has not done well, period. But he has lost several linemen to injury, as well as running backs and tight ends, and lately, he has even been missing his wide receivers.
There are going to be a lot of good times ahead for Joe Flacco”, Harbaugh chimed optimistically. “Stick with him. It’s going to be fun to watch”.
Sure, but will it be fun for Ravens fans or Steelers fans? Tune in next time to find out!