|If you don't think Flacco is a good QB you don't know football, his coach says. (US PRESSWIRE)|
Posted by Ryan Wilson
John Harbaugh, perhaps taking cues from his quarterback, who threw a game-deciding interception on the Ravens' last drive Monday night against the Jaguars, has really bad timing. In one of the ugliest games you'll ever see (and we say this 24 hours after being subjected to Seahawks-Browns and Broncos-Dolphins), Jacksonville outlasted Baltimore, 12-7, in 60 minutes of football that featured absolutely no offense.
It's expected from the Jags, one of the league's worst teams that also starts rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert. The Ravens, however, have been in the Super Bowl conversation since the preseason, and their Week 1 clubbing of the Steelers only solidified their position as a legit threat in January and February.
If the team has an Achilles heel it's their offense, which we've been able to say since those heady Trent Dilfer days earlier this century. Flacco, Baltimore's 2008 first-round pick, hasn't missed a start in his four-year career, and while he's clearly an upgrade over the likes of Kyle Boller, there are still doubts if he's the guy to lead the Ravens to another title.
But before we hear from the Flacco critics after his performance against the Jags, here's Harbaugh before the game.
“You start talking about Joe not being a good quarterback and not being this or not being that? Well everybody can have their opinion, but anybody that knows football knows that is not the case," Harbaugh said during an appearance on 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore (via SportsRadioInterviews.com). "He is the first quarterback in history – the fastest quarterback in history to reach 40 wins – so that’s real."
We were half-expecting Harbaugh to then say, "This is the true story of what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real...The Real World Owings Mills." Sadly, he didn't.
"That’s the measuring stick because in the end this is a team sport and how a quarterback interacts and relates to his team and plays the game in such a way is to win games," he continued. "That’s what counts. That’s the bottom line. … However you want to label the guy an ‘elite quarterback’ or not an ‘elite quarterback,’ when he wins a championship, which is going to happen then people can start talking about the ‘elite,’ label. We don’t care about that. I could tell you one thing: Joe could care less about what label you put on him. He wants to be a winning quarterback.”
And then Monday night happened. The Ravens didn't get a first down until late in the third quarter. They were shutout for nearly 58 minutes, and Flacco, fittingly, threw a pick on the offense's last play of the game.
So, yes, I think we can all agree that Flacco isn't yet elite.
The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston gave Flacco an F for effort, and the always level-headed Skip Bayless called Flacco "Joe Uncool." (See what he did there? Cute.)
“[This] is why I’m going to stick by what I’ve said all along: I do not believe the Ravens can win it all with Joe Flacco as their quarterback because I don’t think the rest of the team, deep down, believes that they can win with Joe Flacco as their quarterback,” Bayless said on whatever they now call Cold Pizza.
The most demoralizing thing to come out of the loss? Bayless might actually be right. Former Browns coach Eric Mangini, however had Joe's back. “It’s a group effort,” he said. “You’ve got to protect better. You’ve got to be able to run the football. And those receivers have to get open. It’s not just the quarterback, although he takes the bulk of the responsibility.”
Wherever the blame lies and the fingers point, this much is certain: the Ravens' offense is a mess. And unless the defense can score every game, we should probably take it easy on the Super Bowl talk.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.