Patrick Semansky/Associated Press
Joe Flacco had a career year in 2013, but it wasn’t all good. He set career-highs in attempts (614), yards (3,912) and interceptions (22) in the first season of his gargantuan contract. Flacco is used to being a magnet for criticism—even before his contract—but he drew plenty of flak for the disappointing performance.
While the Ravens definitely want more from their franchise QB, last year’s struggles were more of a reflection of the talent surrounding him than the gunslinger himself. Some would argue that, at his salary, he should be successful regardless of the talent surrounding him. There is a nugget of legitimacy in that, but the fact of the matter is that Flacco is not that type of quarterback.
He needs at least a modicum of talent around him, and he didn’t have it in 2013. Fortunately, Ozzie Newsome spent most of this offseason catering to Flacco’s needs.
The O-line is restocked with players that will prevent Flacco from taking the 48 sacks that he took in 2013 (second-most in the league).
New offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak is a renowned offensive guru, and his presence will be beneficial for Flacco. But the presence of Rick Dennison as the QB coach may be even more helpful for the Delaware product—who has played much better with a position coach in his ear:
- With QB coach: 82 TDs, 44 INTs, passer rating of 87.8
- Without QB coach: 39 TDs, 34 INTs, passer rating of 76.7
Furthermore, the running game (that has already been discussed) will be able to take some of the pressure off the Super Bowl MVP.
Most importantly, however, he has arguably the most talented (on paper) receiving corps he’s ever had the luxury of working with.
Steve Smith Sr. is an adequate replacement for Boldin as a tough, intermediate route-runner that snags passes at will over the middle. Dennis Pitta will also work in that area of the field, reprising his role as Flacco’s favorite target.
Torrey Smith (who continues to improve) and Jacoby Jones boast the speed to connect with Flacco’s huge arm on the outside, and secondary targets like Marlon Brown and Owen Daniels give him big-bodied targets in the red zone.
Flacco will finally crack the 4,000-yard barrier—anything less would be a major disappointment—and the more balanced offense means less turnovers and more big plays in the passing game.