Joe Flacco‘s performance so far this season can be only described as mediocre at best. This is not what the Baltimore Ravens expected when they signed him to a record-setting, $120 million contract after his masterful run to the Super Bowl.
Flacco has just five touchdowns to go with eight interceptions on the year. Even if you want to take out his five-interception debacle against the Buffalo Bills, Flacco has just three touchdowns and three interceptions in the other four games.
He has had multiple touchdowns just one other time this year, in the Week 1 blowout against the Denver Broncos. His completion percentage is at a three-year low, and his quarterback rating is the worst of his career.
Flacco’s performance through the playoffs and the Super Bowl will buy him good will with coaches, management and fans, and rightfully so. However, the Ravens are now locked in a three-way tie on top of the AFC North with the Cincinnati Bengals, who are living up to expectations, and the Cleveland Browns, who are exceeding them.
This week, they face arguably the game’s best quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, and the Green Bay Packers. After six weeks, Baltimore is staring the possibility of a .500 record in the face. In Week 7, they await the Pittsburgh Steelers, who will be desperate to repair some dignity to their tarnished reputations with a big win against their arch-rivals after a disastrous start to their season.
The time for Flacco to live up to his contract and deliver a commanding division lead is now.
The Ravens’ ground game, which has sputtered all season, is unlikely to get going this week against the Packers. Baltimore’s underperforming offensive line is unlikely to open any holes for Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce against the Packers’ fifth-ranked rush defense.
The defense is no longer dominant enough to shut down any and all offenses. The running game, as mentioned, is not there to help him carry the offense. The receiving corps is a mix of unproven talent and free agent pickups. Game management is no longer enough for Flacco to get the job done and deliver the Ravens to a seventh straight playoff appearance.
Some may argue that the Ravens’ performance cannot be placed solely on Flacco. This is a team game, after all, but let’s be honest, this is America’s glamour sport and he is playing the game’s glamour position. He signed the richest contract in the sport’s history. It’s always going to come back to Flacco.
The other $100 million men have not exactly been without their share of adverse circumstances. Take away Rodgers’ left tackle, and he still sits in the top five of virtually every passing category. Take away Peyton Manning‘s starting center and Pro Bowl left tackle, and he re-writes the record books. Take away Drew Brees‘ wunderkind coach, and he still throws for 5,000 yards.
Even Tony Romo just re-wrote the Cowboys’ franchise records.
The Ravens were ready to make this Flacco’s team. They gave him all that money at the cost of quality talent to fill in for the rest of the team. It is time Flacco repays the team with his play, and for him to prove he wasn’t just an okay quarterback who got hot at the most opportune time in a contract year.
He can take a big step forward by validating this on Sunday against one of the NFL’s very best and setting Baltimore up for the rest of the season with a strong 4-2 record. The Ravens are waiting for him. Will Flacco answer the call?