After a tremendous showing in his rookie season, it seems like every season Joe Flacco is being touted as a breakout candidate, and every year he lets us down.
In 2008, Flacco became just the eighth rookie quarterback in NFL history to start a playoff game and has helped take the Ravens to the playoffs every season of his career.
Expectations have never been soaring for Flacco, but he has been expected to be an upper-echelon quarterback in the NFL.
Yet, in the fourth year of his career, Flacco has been wildly inconsistent.
ESPN columnist Jamison Hensley describes Flacco's sporadic play best:
On Sunday Night Football against the New York Jets, Flacco didn't complete a pass in the second or third quarters. On 'Monday Night Football' in Jacksonville, he went the first 40 minutes without recording a first down. And on Sunday night in Pittsburgh, he led the Ravens on a 92-yard winning drive in the final minutes of the game.
His completion percentage has fallen off precipitously (54.7), and he is on pace for a worse overall season than his rookie year.
General manager Ozzie Newsome has made multiple efforts to improve the weapons around Flacco, adding Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Lee Evans and Torrey Smith, to name a few.
Flacco's play this season has hindered the team's offense to the point that he is holding the Ravens back.
With a defense like the one Baltimore has maintained for more than a decade, Flacco has been gifted with much more leeway than most starting quarterbacks in the NFL.
The franchise's only Super Bowl came with the scenario of a record-breaking good defense and a quarterback playing only slightly better than Flacco is playing now.
In today's NFL, with seemingly every rule change shading on the side of offenses, that scenario has become infinitesimally small to repeat itself.
There's a reason why the last 10 Super Bowl champions haven't typically had an average player at the sport's top position.
I'll name them for you: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Roethlisberger, Tom Brady (twice), Brad Johnson and Brady again.
Which name doesn't belong? Brad Johnson, obviously, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that year was he first since 1985 to lead the league in interceptions, points allowed and total defense.
This vaunted Ravens defense is good but it's not that good, and they're only getting older.
I think we've seen the best that Flacco has to offer and, quite frankly, it isn't enough. Elite quarterbacks are becoming increasingly more difficult to stop, making it next to impossible to build a great defense.
Obviously the Ravens won't be moving on anytime soon, so be prepared to continue watching maddeningly inconsistent football for the foreseeable future if you're a Ravens fan.