When this decade started, the Baltimore Ravens were solely a defense-first team.
Star players like linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed methodically went about destroying opposing offenses, until they were out of ammunition.
They finished the 1999-2000 season with a 15-5 record and flew to Disney World on a mountain high.
Most football folklorists remember the Ravens' Super Bowl run as the year the offense fell asleep.
Trent Dilfer was the starting quarterback, and with the guys on the other side of the ball taking care of business, he was asked to simply show up and not turn the pigskin over.
Not so is the story now these days in Balmer. That’s Baltimore, for the non-native speaking population.
It’s the arm of one rookie quarterback that causing a commotion in the metro area.
Quickly glancing into some of Joe Flacco’s stats, through his first nine games, the numbers are merely average.
Flacco has completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 1,649 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.
His quarterback rating of 79.7 is not bad for a green guy but doesn’t exactly leave Peyton Manning quaking in his cleats with worry.
But he’s having fun and winning.
And winning in this business, is what counts.
At 6-3, the Ravens are in position to push the rest of the competition, to give them their best game.
And its clear, Flacco’s personality has set a precedent, for the Ravens’ early season success.
“I love his confidence and his poise when he needs to make a big play.” said Lorenzo Neal, the team’s fullback, who has played with the gifted gunslingers Phillip Rivers and the current leader in passing yards, Drew Brees.
Neal continued the love fest and added, “He never gets rattled. But that’s the way he lives his life off the field. He does what he’s supposed to do.”
His players want to play for him.
The 2008-2009 Baltimore Ravens have their own identity.
This team’s offense is built on spreading the ball around.
Quarterbacks Coach Hue Jackson emphasizes the mantra: “No restraints.”
Flacco is flourishing because he can throw the ball down the field, without indecision, and the coaching staff is allowing him to make plays, according to his ability, rather than force him to run a system-based offense.
Removing the kid gloves off of their offense has worked for the Ravens, and there’s no reason to deny they are poised to burn a hole in this year’s playoff picture.
They face a mighty test this week in a hostile working environment against the Super Bowl Champion New Yawk Giants.
Still as the saying goes, “Anything can happen on any given Sunday.”
Pour a cold one and order the pizza now. Game time has arrived.
Prediction for the game: Ravens hang in with the G-men for the first half, but the tough Giant D-line wears down the Ravens O-line and pressure young Joe into making mistakes via the sack and fumble variety.
Giants: 21, Ravens: 14