Joe Flacco, unhappy with the extension offers he was getting from the Baltimore Ravens prior to the 2012 season, decided to play out the string of his final contract year and see what would happen after the 2012-13 campaign. As everyone likes to say, he ‘bet on himself’ that year in an effort to prove what his true value was to the team.
After going 4-0 in those playoffs, winning the Super Bowl, and doing it with a postseason TD/INT ratio of 11:0, Flacco earned all the leverage in the world in his next deal which ended up being a 6-year, $120.6M monstrosity that at the time was the biggest contract in NFL history. This was also the first time the word “Elite” was attached to the former Delaware Blue Hen.
It should have also been the last.
Since the 2013 season began, Joe Flacco has led the Ravens to a 24-25 record, completed a (to be kind) modest 61% of his passes and has a backup quarterback-like TD/INT ratio of 65:52. However, that did not stop the Ravens from extending his contract (due to the cap strains caused by the latter years in the 2013 deal) by another three seasons this past March which theoretically keeps him in the pilot’s seat through 2021.
This year, he has a cringeworthy Yards Per Attempt average of 5.9, a 5:6 TD/INT ratio and a 3-4 record. All at a cap charge of $22.55M. The Ravens are not getting today what they paid handsomely for in 2013.
Why is Joe Flacco’s professional career path noteworthy now? Because an eerily similar scenario is playing out just 33 miles away in Landover, MD.
Week 7 was not kind to our quarterbacks. They came in at a season-low 62.8% completion percentage at 239 yards per man with only 13 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. A very ugly weekend for the group, generally speaking.
WEEK 7 HERO: Quietly but confidently, Kirk Cousins- yes, Kirk Cousins- is climbing the NFL’s quarterback ladder. Though ultimately it was in a losing effort, Cousins put together yet another strong performance in Detroit and had his team ahead late in the fourth quarter, needing just one more defensive stop to win. The 20-for-29, 300 yard, 1 TD, 0 INT performance looked a lot like several other impressive outings this season.
Cousins is working off a 1-yr franchise tag deal at $19.95M after failing to sign a long-term contract with the Redskins in the spring. Feeling his market value was higher than the compensation he was offered by the team, Cousins decided to ‘bet on himself’ this season in hopes that, like Flacco, the team will have no choice but to pony up a long-term, highly lucrative contract after what he hopes is an equally outstanding year in the District.
Considering the impressive statistics above and- more importantly- the belief Cousins is instilling in his coaches and the fan base after a shaky week 1, we may be on our way to another situation where the team has no choice but to fully commit to this player as their franchise leader.
There is a lot of football to be played yet and each game becomes more and more difficult and scrutinized as we approach cold weather and the playoffs. Part of that fun will be to see just how far Kirk Cousins can lead the Washington Redskins and how committed the Redskins are to their only viable option at QB1 as of today.
WEEK 7 ZERO: Coming into the game versus the NY Jets, Joe Flacco led the NFL in attempts and completions, but quantity by no means has equaled quality. Though the Ravens started the year off with a 3-0 record, reality has set in and they entered last week’s game having lost three straight and were desperate for a turnaround.
Against a Jets pass defense ranked 27th in the NFL in 2016, “Elite” Joe Flacco could only muster an Osweiler-ian 22/41 for 229-yard effort with 0 touchdowns and 2 picks in yet another loss for Baltimore. At no point in the game did it appear as if Flacco was ready or able to put the offense on his back and will it to victory. That’s becoming a disturbing trend.
More upsetting for Ravens fans is the apparent lack of passion that has permeated this group. Maybe the players are tuning out coach John Harbaugh after 9 years. Maybe it’s the fact that not one player on the Ravens 53-man roster is scary or someone that an opponent has to devote a game plan to stop. Maybe the guys in charge of player acquisitions have a reputation that far outweighs the actual quality of their recent draft and free agency additions.
Or maybe the team is simply a reflection of its leader, its quarterback- Flatlinin’ Joe Flacco. The man that facial expressions forgot.
Whatever the reason, this season is looking a lot like the previous three- underwhelming and going nowhere. Will Joe Flacco play up to the expectations of his enormous QB1 contract and lift the team back to the AFC playoffs? Or will he continue to disappoint with lackluster performances like the one last Sunday in the Meadowlands?
Ravens fans hope for the former, but my eyes are convincing me of the latter.
INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINEMEN
WEEK 7 HERO: After a dominant week 3 performance that earned him the first HERO award of the year, Snacks Harrison has been merely steady if not spectacular for the Giants. In week 7, he returned to rarefied air with 5 solo tackles, an assist and a sack in a much-needed win for the Giants in London.
He easily leads the group of interior DL’s in solo tackles, assists and tackles for loss. The only thing keeping Harrison from earning an ‘A’ grade thus far is a modest number of impact plays. If he can make a few more stops behind the line of scrimmage, he could arguably be the best free agent signing of 2016.
WEEK 7 ZERO: After missing the last two games due to injury (both Titan wins), Al Woods re-entered the rotation on the defensive line against the Colts on Sunday. Because the AFC South division is void of any one dominant- or even good- team, this was a game Tennessee could not afford to lose at home and the hope was their defense would rise to the occasion and help lift the team to divisional contention with a third consecutive win.
Woods failed to register a blip on the box score in 25 snaps and the 26 points Tennessee put up on the scoreboard weren’t enough to win the game. It is not the first ZERO award Woods has earned this season and the team needs him (and several others) to raise their level of play if the they want to take advantage of a rotten division that is completely up for grabs.