Why Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens Don't Care What Critics Have to Say

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Why Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens Don't Care What Critics Have to Say
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Cool Joe Flacco is letting people know exactly what he thinks lately.

Joe Flacco made headlines earlier this week for blasting the use of the Wildcat offense after the Baltimore Ravens installed it into a handful of plays against the New York Jets.

Per Will Brinson of CBS Sports, the Ravens' starting signal-caller looks at the design as an amateur move.

"I don't like that stuff," Flacco said. "It makes you look like a high school offense. That's just my opinion."

Flacco went on to let the world know that you might as well not even put a defender on him when lined up at wide receiver. He's just in there for show, via Brinson.

"I'm not doing a single thing," he said. "I'm not blocking. I'm not doing anything."

As expected, the local and national media pounced on the words of the reigning Super Bowl MVP, essentially telling Flacco to put his money—all $120.6 million of itwhere his mouth is.

And on the Ravens' first offensive drive against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving night, he did just that. He completed 4-of-5 passes for 74 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith after completing a 54-yard shot to the wide receiver three plays earlier.

Cool Joe 1, Wildcat 0.

In fact, the wacky formation never saw its way to the field on Thursday, leaving backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor to brave the cold on the sidelines for every minute of the division battle. 

While the criticism of Flacco may have some merit this season—given that he is tied for fifth in the NFL with the most interceptions at 14—he also reinforced one major point.

He just doesn't care what critics have to say.

Maybe it's because Flacco has already landed one of the largest contracts in football. Or maybe he doesn't want to look like Mark Sanchez spread out against a defender more than willing to take a crack at a quarterback completely out of position.

@cjzero
Mark Sanchez clearly prefers a center between him and a defender.

Either way, Ravens fans are finally getting a more vocal leader out of Flacco, someone who quietly led the team to a Super Bowl victory last season.

With the 22-20 win over the Steelers, the Ravens have actually clawed (or soared) back into playoff contention in a relatively weak AFC.

After losing three straight games, capped by an embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens were 3-5, with the playoffs a seemingly bleak prospect. Fast forward four weeks, and Baltimore has posted a 3-1 record and is finally back to .500. With a record of 6-6, the team is sitting at the sixth spot in playoff seeding, pending outcomes among 5-6 teams on Sunday.

Flacco's overall performance on Thursday was one of his best all season, demonstrating a heightened level of poise when all eyes were squarely on the otherwise stoic figure. He put together a turnover-free showing, completing 24-of-35 passes and one touchdown. His completion percentage of 68.6 and passer rating of 98.6 were both second best for the season.

In addition to the touchdown, Flacco put the Ravens in scoring position multiple times, with Justin Tucker converting on all five of his field-goal attempts.

The one criticism of him will likely be that he was unable to put the Steelers away earlier in the matchup. After the game, the Ravens quarterback addressed the issue even before questions came flying.

"There were so many opportunities for us to go out there and get points and win, just big, and put the game away, and we didn't do it," Flacco said, via the Associated Press (h/t ESPN). "In the back of your mind, you're thinking, 'Man, this is going to catch up to us.'"

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Well, fortunately for the Ravens, it didn't catch up to them and the team is well positioned for a playoff run. Baltimore will have a long break leading into Week 14 and will be prepared to host the Minnesota Vikings as it vies for its fourth win in five games.

The contest will likely again be on the shoulders of Flacco, who is expected to step up and produce a win. The Ravens continue to struggle at offensive line and in the running game.

Whether Flacco continues to voice his frustrations over specific areas of the offense this next week will be something to wait to see. But one thing is clear: Flacco and the Ravens don't care what their detractors have to say.

That is, of course, if the team keeps on winning.

 

All statistics courtesy of ESPN.com, unless otherwise noted. 

Matthew Stensrud is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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