Training camp is just under three weeks away. We’re going to have position battles at the center and wide receiver positions. We’re going to have our eyes on players returning from injuries, and free agent signings. We’re going to be placing the rookies under the microscope, as a few will likely be tossed into a starting spot right from the jump.
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The one thing that will remain constant is Joe Flacco. He’s the franchise quarterback. He’ll get the least amount of playing time in preseason games, he’s not facing any controversy, and doesn’t have to worry about anyone taking his job. I won’t say he’ll get lost in the shuffle of training camp. We’re just going to be looking at a number of other things. So lets talk about some of the veterans now, starting with Flacco.
Joe Flacco has a huge contract to play up to this year. He is already on the right path to earning it, hitting the gym often and packing on some extra muscle this offseason. But it’s not just a contract he’s got to live up to. It’s the critics who will say that last post-season was a fluke. That he had a magical four game run that he won’t duplicate. That the NFL wanted the Ravens to win so Ray Lewis could go out on top. Now that he’s a Super Bowl MVP, all eyes will be on his season.
I’m all for doing what it takes to win games. But I would feel more comfortable with some better numbers from Flacco in 2013. I would even go as far to call this a defining season for Joe Flacco. Sixth season, no Cam Cameron. What we see from him this year may be what we get.
Here are the last ten Super Bowl winning QBs, and how they did in their following season.2012 – Eli Manning – 9-7 record, 59.9 Comp.%, 26 TD, 15 INT, 87.2 Rating 2011 – Aaron Rodgers – 14-1, 68.3%, 45 TD, 6 INT, 122.5 2010 – Drew Brees – 11-5, 68.1%, 33 TD, 22 INT, 90.9 2009 – Ben Roethlisberger – 9-6, 66.6%, 26 TD, 12 INT, 100.5 2008 – Eli Manning – 12-4, 60.3%, 21 TD, 10 INT, 86.4 2007 – Peyton Manning – 13-3, 65.4%, 31 TD, 14 INT, 98.0 2006 – Ben Roethlisberger – 7-8, 59.7%, 18 TD, 23 INT, 75.4 2005 – Tom Brady – 10-6, 63.0%, 26 TD, 14 INT, 92.3 2004 – Tom Brady – 14-2, 60.8%, 28 TD, 14 INT, 92.6 2003 – Brad Johnson – 7-9, 62.1, 26 TD, 21 INT, 81.5
The average line of these ten men is an 11-5 record, to go with a 63.4 comp%, 28 TDs, 15 INTs, and a 92.7 QB rating. Joe Flacco’s highest comp% is 63.1% in 2009. In fact, he hasn’t broken 60% in the last two years. His highest TD total was 25 in 2010. Good news is he has never thrown more than 12 INTs (2008, 2009, 2011). Flacco has eclipsed the 92.7 mark in QB rating just once. 93.6 in 2010. He’s won 11 or more games in three out of five seasons.
If Joe Flacco hits that average line of 63.4%, 28 TD, and a 92.7 rating, all three stats would have placed him in the top ten last year. When you look at it, and you look at the past champions, it’s the line that basically will tell you if you are more like Tom Brady, or Ben Roethlisberger.
Given his contract and the fact that he’s entering his sixth season, I expect Flacco to put it together for 16 games instead of four. He needs to start playing better on the road. Guys like Brady and Rodgers are favorites no matter where they play. Road games shouldn’t be as big an issue as they have been for Flacco. If he improves on just those eight road games, 65%, 30 TD, and a 95-100 rating isn’t out of the question. That will likely equate to at least 11 wins.
That’s about where he needs to be for critics not to question his ability or contract.