Joe Flacco's fifth season in the NFL is going to be an important one. Not only will he be playing in the final season of his rookie deal, but he is going to be motivated after coming so close to the Super Bowl last year. Conditions are in place for 2012 to finally, truly, be the breakout season Baltimore Ravens fans have been clamoring for.
Of course, there will still be skeptics, and in some ways it's hard not to blame them. It's now a yearly tradition in the greater Baltimore area that every July and August, articles pop up saying this will be the year Flacco breaks out.
This gets Ravens fans excited and hopeful until around the midpoint of the season. By this point, Flacco's had some good games and he's had some awful ones. He'll have close to 2,000 passing yards with an unimpressive 10-to-6 touchdown/interception ratio.
Although the Ravens usually have a winning record around this time, this is where the complaining typically begins. Despite Flacco's good-enough play at quarterback, fans whine about being stuck rooting for a team that does not have a stud quarterback. Unfair comparisons are drawn to Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, who would definitely be perfect playing under center for the Ravens.
Well, Brady and Rodgers are not the quarterbacks in Baltimore, while Flacco assuredly is the Ravens' franchise quarterback. And in 2012, just good enough will give way to elite quarterback play from Flacco. For real this time.
Having trouble believing? Let's take a look at the overwhelming evidence that Flacco is ready to improve this season.