Chalk It Up To Growing Pains

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Chalk It Up To Growing Pains


Joe Flacco had his worst game of the 2009 season on Sunday against the Bengals. While he completed more than 70% of his passes, only 4 of those completions went to receivers. Flacco also threw two interceptions, one on the Ravens final offensive play.

It wasn’t performance, but it was not the Joe Cool performance Ravens fans have become accustomed to.  For the second week in a row, Flacco threw an interception in the red zone - wasting a Ravens scoring opportunity. Last week, miscommunication with Mark Clayton caused Flacco to throw a ball outside while Clayton went inside. This week, Flacco rushed his opportunity and failed to read CB Jonathan Joseph cutting underneath Todd Heap’s route.

That opening drive by the Ravens was their best of the game - though it came apart in its final plays with a false start on center Matt Birk and an unnecessary timeout. Early in the drive, Flacco completed 4 of 5 passes and the Ravens were moving with some consistency.

After the interception, however, Flacco and the offense really lost their focus. Flacco seemed timid when it came to throwing downfield and to his receivers; he rushed his reads and settled for the check-down too often. And unlike last week in New England, where Flacco seemed to be the offense’s general, this week we saw Flacco flustered and apparently outmatched.

Not many people are talking about Flacco’s play in this game; it’s been too easy to blame the defense for blowing a late lead. But Flacco had a subpar game.

The good news is that Flacco is still this franchise’s best chance to win. Flacco can and will provide for this offense. He just needs to settle down again and find the calmness that earned him the nickname Joe Cool. He can make any throw you need him to, if he is patient enough to make his reads and trust his line.

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