“I think a couple times he needed to get rid of the ball. It just didn’t look like he had a hold on the offense.”
To those who tuned out the media following the weekend’s Divisional Playoffs, you’d probably assume that this was more of the fallout from the Jets’ locker room. Instead, future Hall of Famer Ed Reed was commenting about the play of quarterback Joe Flacco against the Texans. Reed said that Flacco appeared “rattled” by the Texans.
Now, it’s a comment that has made its way around the Twitterverse and the social media world. On a larger scale, it was Reed’s take on the inefficiency of the Baltimore offense as a whole on Sunday against Houston. The offensive line struggled mightily against Wade Phillips’ front, the receivers missed several opportunities and Flacco was under duress all day. Don’t forget. The Ravens also failed on a fourth-down play at the one-yard line.
Still, in the aftermath of this game, coupled with Reed’s comments, I wonder aloud whether Flacco is destined for a fate similar to Mark Sanchez should the Ravens fall on Sunday. That is to say, will people look past the wins and sharpen their blades as the New York media has done to Sanchez?
I know. The lows experienced by Sanchez have been much, much worse. His mountain of turnovers in the final three weeks of the 2011 season (nine) certainly sent red flares up into the night sky and crushed the “All he does is win” chatter. All we’ve heard in the past three weeks is how fractured the locker room is, complete with shots at Sanchez’s leadership and work ethic.
Let me throw the 2011 tale of the tape in the mix.
- Sanchez produced 32 total touchdowns (six rushing) with 3,474 passing yards and 26 turnovers in 2011.
- Flacco passed for 3,610 yards with 21 total touchdowns (one rushing) and 18 turnovers. His touchdown total dropped by 20% from last year’s career-high output.
*** Flacco’s career completion percentage is 5.5% higher than that of Sanchez (60.8% to 55.3%).
The running games and defenses were supposed to be front and center for these squads. The Jets failed to establish this identity for much of the season, while Cam Cameron forgot that he had Ray Rice on the field at times (it’s a simplified statement for the purposes of moving things along here, but Baltimore fans aren’t quiet about their thoughts of Cameron).
Defensively, we know about the “name” veterans: Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs. The Ravens ranked third in total defense this season. The Jets, despite the presence of those high-priced cornerbacks, ranked 20th.
For this week’s tilt, everyone is leaning on the “terrible” New England defense and saying that Flacco needs to air it out. They’re enamored with the passing yardage and big play stats allowed by the Patriots (79 passes in the regular season of at least 20 yards). The fact that the Patriots ranked 15th in total defense hasn’t been cited anywhere (except my rants).
Coming into 2011, the big line on Flacco was that he couldn’t beat the Steelers. The Ravens thumped the Steelers 35-7 in front of the home crowd in the season opener. They later eked out a three-point win in Pittsburgh. He’s brought attention to himself in the past several weeks and has delivered the Ravens to the AFC Championship Game. I know. The win over Houston wasn’t pretty, but he did enough to advance with the support of his defense.
If he wins Sunday (the Ravens are heavy underdogs: 7 1/2 – 9 points), will the critics back off?
I leave with this note. “The Dan Patrick Show” did a poll this week. “Would you rather have Alex Smith or Joe Flacco for one game?” Smith won the polling decisively. Chew on that.