For the last five years Joe Flacco has been stating his case as one of the best quarterbacks to play in the NFL. For the most part, his declarations and claims have been last off as foolhardy bluster coming from an egotistical quarterback. Everyone knows the strength of the Baltimore Ravens lies in their defense. It has since the first moment Art Model moved the team to town, and it rings true still today. Ask the casual fan to name players on the Ravens roster and they are likely to give you a defensive player or two before they offer up an offensive player, and then, it would likely be running back Ray Rice.
The truth is, Joe Flacco has been holding his own ever since he stepped into the league. He was the first rookie quarterback to win two road games in the playoffs and he has been continuing to shoulder the load ever since.
It has not been pretty for Flacco. Over the last five seasons there have been times where the Baltimore offense struggled mightily. During those times, the blame fell squarely on the shoulders of the team’s quarterback, and Joe Flacco took that blame and used as motivation to improve his game. So many quarterbacks have crumbled under the pressure, but Flacco has hung in there and is now looking to reap the benefits.
Flacco will be negotiating a contract this offseason, and with a win against the San Francisco 49ers, he will likely be able to write his own check. Flacco’s paycheck will be comparable to some of the best quarterbacks of our time, but will his legacy be viewed in the same way?
There were times when the offense was not able to keep up with the defense in Baltimore. Joe Flacco says that those were some of his darkest days. There were games where the defense did more than its part and yet the game got away because Flacco and his offense could not do the same. For Flacco, it was the comments from the other side of the ball that pushed him the most.
No one likes to let their peers down. No one wants to be that guy, and for the longest time, Flacco was labeled as just that. The thing is, Flacco never bought into the labels. Flacco has known what he is this whole time. Listen to NFL SoundFX and you hear him talking about his ability as a gunslinger. Flacco believes he is the best. It is why he spoke on it at the start of the season.
Now, with just one game left in the 2012-13 season, Joe Flacco is one the verge of opening the eyes of the football world. He has a chance to shake the labels that have been stuck on him for all of these years.
When he takes the field for the Harbaugh Bowl, Flacco will be looking to show he is more than just a big arm. He will be looking to cement his name within the history of the Baltimore Ravens as the best quarterback they have ever known. It has been a long time coming for the young quarterback out of Delaware, but now that he has his respect, he plans to never let it go.
Jeff Everette is a Featured Columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA. Follow Jeff on twitter @jeverettesports, like his page on FaceBook, or add his Google + to your circles for all of his latest articles, thoughts, and rants.