Baltimore Ravens Joe Flacco seems to be having a run of the mill season at first glance. A little over a touchdown per game, a little under an interception per game. Standard Flacco, right?
Well, we're halfway through the season and there's a bit more going on with Flacco than meets the eye. He's poised to set several personal bests and worsts this season.
Let's look at what they are and what's causing them.
Flacco threw 428, 499 and 489 passes in 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively.
After Game 8, Flacco has already thrown 309 passes. He was projected to throw over 600 by the end of the regular season.
Flacco has built rapport with Anquan Boldin who is set to nearly double last season's receiving yards, but the real increase is in the tight ends.
In 2010, Flacco's tight ends completed 52 receptions. In the first half of this season, that number is at 51.
Over the years, it looks like Flacco has started to realize he holds on to the ball for too long, and is starting to dump short passes.
In fact, under 40 percent of this season's passes are to his wideouts.
In the past two seasons, Flacco has completed just over 3,600 passing yards in each season.
He's currently set to post 4,100 passing yards at the end of this season.
This makes sense—their rushing game went from 2,200 yards in 2009, to 1,831 yards in 2010, to just 1,632 yards projected in 2011.
What's alarming is that he's looking to pass roughly an additional 125 passes from 2009 and 2010, for only 500 more yards.
However, the increase in passes to tight ends and running backs almost makes up for the drop in yardage—almost.
As you might've guessed, an additional 125 pass attempts for an additional 500 passing yards doesn't bode well for high yards per attempt.
Flacco seemed to be steadily increasing his average yards per attempt, going from 6.94 to 7.24 to 7.41 as of last season.
That put him less than one yard per attempt under Aaron Rodgers last year.
However, his average has dropped this year to just 6.64 yards per attempt, the worst of his career.
His increase of passes to tight ends and running backs are a factor, but we also can't help but to look at his completion percentage.
That brings us to Flacco's fourth upcoming career record.
In the past two seasons, Flacco threw under 500 passes for over 300 completions.
This left him with completion percentages of 63.1 and 62.6. Even his rookie year was 60.0.
Add 125 projected passes and just 20-30 more receptions and you'll find his percentage at just 54.7.
Flacco is not completely to blame, though.
He hasn't had more than a couple seasons to build a rapport with any receiver. Evans, who has experience, has been out all season, leaving Flacco just Boldin and a bunch of rookies.
Yes, Torrey Smith has proved himself in the moving game, but when he's dropping passes that hit him in the chest, it's hard to say Flacco has gotten any worse at QB.
Once Flacco has a couple of years with the same receivers, it won't be a stretch to see him in the 65-70 percent completion range that the elite QBs live in.
In 2008, Flacco had eleven fumbles. He got that number down to eight in 2009 and nine in 2010.
So far this season, Flacco has nine fumbles and regardless of our hopes, it's unlikely that he's done yet.
Despite the absence of Ben Grubbs, Flacco hasn't been sacked any more than usual this season.
Pretty often in the NFL, a quarterback holds the ball too long in his first couple years, then starts to get his footing and some awareness. In that third or fourth year, though, there's this gap between getting rid of the ball and knowing when you're about to be blind-sighted and hit in the arm.
Obviously it's not a rule, and I don't think Flacco will necessarily join the ranks of Rodgers or Brady, but it's not a terrible list to be a part of.
Unlike the other personal records Flacco is set to break, this one is broken.
For all the grief I may give Torrey Smith as a rookie, he helped Flacco get there this season. Against St. Louis, Flacco threw Torrey Smith a 74-yard touchdown pass early in the game.
This broke his previous longest pass play by two yards. While it might not be a huge personal best or a huge improvement, it's still something to be proud of.
Despite what may seem like a dreary article, plays like this and typical early career QB struggles all point to one thing.
Joe Flacco is on his way to the ranks of great quarterbacks.