There’s been a lot of conversation lately—both in and out of Baltimore—on whether or not Ravens QB Joe Flacco has the ability to lead his team to the big game: the Super Bowl.
Negative remarks about Flacco’s future with the Ravens have come from fellow players and media alike—remarks that paint the picture of a quarterback who’s incapable of taking his game to the next level.
Nothing can be further from the truth, since it’s impossible to blame all of the Ravens’ shortcomings on Flacco alone.
For instance, in 2010, Flacco had to operate with a makeshift offensive line, mainly due to injuries, which couldn’t provide Flacco with any protection whatsoever. In addition to deficiencies on the line, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron couldn’t find any rhythm to his play-calling, remaining, for the most part, unimaginative in his role as coordinator for the Ravens.
As the 2010 season continued, problems started to compound on offense for Flacco and the Ravens. Newly acquired WR Anquan Boldin never managed to learn the simple style of offense Baltimore operated with and furthermore, didn’t materialize into Flacco’s main go-to guy that many fans had hoped for.
Wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth never got on track, thanks in part to a fractured foot. When Stallworth returned to the team during the second half of the season, he was a complete non-factor.
Stallworth was supposed to be the answer to Baltimore’s lack of a deep threat, but thanks to Cameron and, to some extent, head coach John Harbaugh, Stallworth never saw the playing time he deserved.
Stallworth managed just two catches for 82 yards during his 2010 campaign with the Ravens.
Even with the lack of explosiveness from the receiving corps and, more importantly, poor coaching decisions on the part of Cameron and Harbaugh, Flacco continued to receive the brunt of all blame circulating around the NFL, after the Ravens early exit from the playoffs last season.
While it’s normal for any quarterback to be the main fall guy when things aren’t going right within a franchise, we believe Flacco doesn’t deserve much of the criticism being flung in his direction.
Recently, former New York Giants QB and Super Bowl XXI MVP Phil Simms spoke out about Flacco, on how he believes Baltimore’s signal-caller is the right man to take the Ravens back to the Super Bowl.
Most of Simms’ remarks were made on “The Ken Weinman Show”, featured on 105.7 The Fan, right on the heels of comments that Pittsburgh Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley directed towards Flacco.
Simms quickly put to rest any confusion about whether or not Flacco has been improving as an NFL quarterback.
"I’ve seen improvement in him each year,” Simms said “I thought this past year, just certain things about him, his poise, his command—of course we know about his tremendous arm—but I think he’s moved around and he varied his game a little bit towards the end of the year."
"If I was a Baltimore Ravens fan, it would give me great hope that he’s going to continue to go upward," Simms added.
As one of the most prolific quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen, Simms can differentiate between which players are rising and falling in the league. Simms clearly sees Flacco as a player who is rising.
For close to a year, we’ve been trying to illustrate how much success Flacco has enjoyed in his first three years with the Ravens. Obviously, many doubters are quick to dismiss most of Flacco’s accomplishments and not give credit where credit is due.
Simms was quick to strike down any doubters out there, who believe Flacco doesn’t have a bright future in the NFL.
“I’ve watched a lot of film on Joe Flacco over the last three years and I know this, you can probably go around and ask most of the quarterbacks in the NFL, ‘Would you like to have a career start like [Flacco] has the first three years?’” Simms said “And almost everybody would go, ‘Absolutely.’”
Not one quarterback since Dan Marino and Bernie Kosar, has enjoyed the same success at the start of their respective careers in the NFL as Flacco has.
Flacco has set NFL records in some very important departments over the course of his young career. Flacco became the first quarterback to start 38 games in his first two seasons.
Even more importantly, Flacco is currently tied with former Miami Dolphins QB Dan Marino, for the most regular and postseason wins in his first three years with the Ravens—38 victories.
Still, you have players like Woodley, who come out of the woodwork with incorrect assumptions of Flacco.
In an interview on the NFL Network two weeks ago, Woodley was asked if he thought Flacco would ever lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl.
Woodley’s opinion of Flacco differed greatly from that of Simms.
“No, not at all because they have to go through one team—that’s the Pittsburgh Steelers in that AFC championship. So in order for them to get to the Super Bowl, they have to beat us, and we’re not gonna let that happen once we get that close,” Woodley said “So that’s not gonna happen in this lifetime.”
Woodley’s statement has more to do with the passion of a heated rivalry than is does having little respect for Flacco.
Woodley’s teammate, WR Hines Ward, would agree.
Ward, in an interview with the NFL Network’s Rich Eisen last week, said the Ravens have a “great team” and “can win with Flacco.”
Ward, later on during the interview, went on to say other complimentary things about the Ravens—something we come to expect from a player who’s usually a class-act.
So, can the Ravens win the big game with Flacco under center? According to Simms, the answer is quite simple.
“You can win the Super Bowl with Joe Flacco at quarterback. There’s no question,” Simms said. “I think the Ravens are in good hands at the quarterback position for a long time,” Simms concluded.
The bottom line is, there will always be naysayers in the NFL community who believe Flacco isn’t the solution in Baltimore. We couldn’t disagree more.
Besides, when someone like Phil Simms comes to your defense, you must be doing something right.
We believe Joe Flacco is doing just that.
Todd McGregor is a Baltimore Ravens Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.
Follow Todd on Twitter! Twitter.com/ravens023