The Baltimore Ravens have gone undefeated through the first two weeks of the season, and it’s certainly been a good start for them. After suffering their first losing season since 2007 last year, the Ravens will take the wins any way they can get them.
But if they want to continue winning in 2016, one thing is absolutely certain. Joe Flacco must play better.
Through two weeks, Flacco has thrown for 560 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He has also completed 60.3 percent of his passes and has a quarterback rating of 84.3. So his play certainly hasn’t been horrible thus far.
But it is far from being elite.
At this moment, Flacco is currently the 22nd ranked quarterback in terms of quarterback rating and he is 28th in completion percentage, which easily puts him in the bottom half of the league.
The even more concerning part may be the carelessness he’s had with the ball. His two interceptions are the seventh highest in the league, tied with Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum.
Now, of course, it is very early in the season and the sample size for this year is only two games. So there is certainly a ton of time left for things to change.
But for Flacco, this trend isn’t just the last two games. It’s been his standard of play for some time now.
Let’s look at his 2015 season before he suffered the injury.
He finished last season with a career-high completion percentage, hitting 64.4 percent of his passes, but his 6.8 yards-per-completion were the third lowest of his career and he had his second-highest interception percentage.
If you look throughout the league last year, the person who he is most comparable to those numbers was Matt Hasselbeck of the Indianapolis Colts. Hasselbeck was 39-years-old last year and has since retired to join the ESPN team.
Now no offense to Hasselbeck, but the Ravens certainly aren’t paying Flacco over $20 million a year to play like a 39-year-old over the hill quarterback. They need him to be a star like he has been in the past.
With that being said, though, the Ravens must also help Flacco and put him in a position to win in terms of offensive game planning.
When you look at Flacco’s career, historically he has been better when making less pass attempts. In 2012-2013, the year the Ravens won a Super Bowl behind Flacco, he threw 33.2 pass attempts per game and had the best interception ratio of his career. And of course, the Ravens were very successful as a result.
But during his worst season as a professional, just one year after winning the aforementioned Super Bowl, Flacco averaged 38.4 attempts per game and he struggled horribly. Despite throwing for a career-high in yards, he threw the most interceptions (22) of his career and had by far his highest interception percentage per attempt. As a result, the Ravens went 8-8 and missed the playoffs.
If you look back at Flacco’s entire career, this is always the case. When he throws the ball less, he and the Ravens are much better. Even just two years ago in 2014, a year that saw Flacco put up a 91.0 passer rating for the season; it was a result of less pass attempts by the quarterback.
Now although these are just examples of specific year’s by Flacco, one stat trumps them all when it comes to the success of the Ravens and their quarterback.
During his nine seasons in the NFL, Baltimore has never made the playoffs when Flacco averages over 35 pass attempts per game.
Through two weeks in 2016, he’s averaged nearly 40 a game. Which, historically, is not a good sign for the Ravens.