Checking up on Joe Flacco
The last time we took an in depth look at Joe Flacco was week 1. With the bye week in the rear view mirror, no better time to focus on the most important position on the field, leading up to a very important stretch of the season.
Unfortunately as we near the half way mark of the 2013 campaign, Joe Flacco is trending in the wrong direction across the board. The six-year veteran hasn’t broken the 60% completion barrier since 2010 (62.6%). He’s falling short of that mark again so far posting a 59.5% mark. Assuming he tosses for at least 83 yards this Sunday in Cleveland, he’ll be on pace for his first 4,000 yard season. But cumulative yards don’t matter (See: Matt Stafford, Tony Romo 2012). Flacco is on pace for his lowest touchdown count since his rookie year when he notched 14, and on pace for 18 INTs. That would eclipse the most he’s ever thrown in a season by six (he threw 12 picks three times). His quarterback rating currently sits at a career low 78.9.
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Inconsistency is still part of the Flacco repertoire. He had two good games against Cleveland and Houston where he completed 66.7% of his passes in both games, no INTs, then goes to Buffalo and throws five INTs. Flacco has put together a couple nice games of late with a 112.6 rating against Green Bay, and a 97.1 rating against Pittsburgh. Both resulted in losses. No matter where you want to place the blame, at the end of the day it’s a team game. I’ve been pretty brutal on Harbaugh for some of his questionable decisions, but everyone could play a little better, including the 120.6 million dollar man.
The advanced Pro Football Focus stats haven’t been too kind to number 5 either. His accuracy percentage of 68.1% ranks 25th of 28 QBs. Fun fact, Tom Brady, Colin Kaepernick, and Eli Manning are the three QBs with a lower Acc.%. Phillip Rivers is your league leader at 82.9%.
Big plays have been missing from the Ravens offense all year. The running game hasn’t got rolling yet. Flacco hasn’t had much success with the deep ball either. He’s middle of the road with attempts that travel over 20 yards, but he’s only completed nine out of 37 deep passes, with two drops. Of qualifying QBs, Joe Flacco is the only one in the NFL who hasn’t thrown TD pass on a deep ball. Not having Jacoby Jones for most of the first half of the season hasn’t helped, but Flacco had an opportunity for a sure TD in Pittsburgh to Jones and underthrew it.
The offensive line has been terrible. But it’s not really a reason to give Flacco a pass. He finds himself under duress on 37.9% of his dropbacks, which is only 12th in the league. Russell Wilson is under pressure 46.7% of the time, nearly every other pass. He’s doing just fine this season. Another example, Flacco’s Acc.% is 55.7% when under pressure. Cam Newton finds himself under pressure at the same rate as Flacco (almost, 37.8% vs. Joe’s 37.9%) and Newton’s Acc% under pressure is a league best 76%. Flacco isn’t a “running quarterback,” but we’ve seen him move, he can get out of the pocket and find space, and should be doing that more. The line gives him an average of 4.2 seconds before he gets sacked, which is 7th best in the NFL. The other six ahead of Flacco are Terrell Pryor, Geno Smith, Cam Newton, Brandon Weeden, Colin Kaepernick, and Robert Griffin III. All of them are mobile QBs except for Weeden. 4.2 seconds is plenty of time.
The most important reason why the Ravens need to get the run game going is to make play action passing effective. Joe Flacco ranks pretty high in play action passing with a 111.1 rating (9th best) on such passes, with three TDs and zero INTs. He posts a 73.3 rating on non-play action passes.
There has to be something good to look forward to from Flacco and the offense, right? 35-8 record, 64 total TDs, 24 INTs, 92.7 QB rating. Those are Flacco’s career numbers at home where five of the Ravens last eight games will be held. Flacco also likes the month of November with a completion percentage of 63.4%, 29 TDS and 10 INTs, 93.6 rating.
Sounds like no better time than right now for Flacco to get his numbers to start trending upward, which should lead to some much needed wins to keep the Ravens playoff hopes alive.