Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

30 Jun 2016

Film Room: Joe Flacco

by Cian Fahey

Just a few months ago, Ozzie Newsome made Joe Flacco the highest-paid player in the history of the NFL for the second time. Newsome justified Flacco's $40 million signing bonus and $22.1 million average per year by saying, “Teams struggle with the quarterback position. Philly signing [Sam] Bradford and Washington having to put the franchise tag on [Kirk] Cousins. They don't have the résumé that Joe has, and for us to be moving forward with a guy that has eight years and won a Super Bowl and been in three AFC Championship Games, it speaks volumes.”

First, it's not exactly comforting when your justification for handing out the richest contract in the history of the sport is to point to two mediocre quarterbacks who were overpaid. Second, those two mediocre quarterbacks comfortably outplayed Flacco last season without playing particularly well. Flacco was terrible in 2015. Newsome said all the wrong things to justify the contract extension because he couldn't point to recent performances of Flacco's to prop him up. Even if we accept the idea that Flacco was responsible for his team's achievements (including a Super Bowl win and multiple AFC Championship Games), we still have to acknowledge that those achievements came a long time ago now.

Three seasons have passed since the Ravens won the Super Bowl. Over the course of those three seasons, Flacco's play has slumped. He had one of his most impressive statistical seasons in 2014 under Gary Kubiak. Kubiak's scheme simplified Flacco's reads, got him out of the pocket, and used the running game as its foundation, but Flacco was extremely lucky not to cripple Kubiak's good work by turning the ball over too often. Flacco only threw 14 interceptions in 18 games that year, but had 31 interceptable passes. Only Derek Carr and Brian Hoyer had more. His 2014 season was seen as a huge improvement over the previous year when Flacco threw 22 interceptions to just 19 touchdowns, but the only real difference was the ability of the defensive backs who were put in position to catch his errant passes. In 2015, Flacco threw 12 interceptions in just 10 starts and had 17 interceptable passes on just 413 attempts, giving him the 25th-ranked attempts-per-interceptable pass number out of the 35 quarterbacks who were charted in the Pre-Snap Reads Quarterback Catalogue.

Getting paid after winning the Super Bowl was the turning point for Flacco. He gave up on his mechanics once he had secured his huge contract, showing no courage to stand in against pressure in the pocket, nor any technical precision in his throwing motion. Mechanics are boring to talk about, but crucially important for accuracy. Strong-armed quarterbacks tend to be more sloppy with their mechanics, and Flacco has fallen into this stereotype over recent seasons.

The below chart tracks every qualifying throw from Flacco's 2015 season. It doesn't include passes tipped at the line of scrimmage, miscommunications, intentional throwaways, spikes, or attempts where the quarterback was hit during his motion.


Joe Flacco Accuracy By Distance, 2015
Pass Distance To 5 6-15 16-25 26-plus
Outside Numbers Left 81.6% 38 63.6% 11 61.5% 13 14.3% 7
Outside Hashes Left 91.5% 47 88.3% 17 50.0% 10 N/A -
Between Hashes 87.1% 31 73.3% 15 N/A - 0.0% 1
Outside Hashes Right 91.7% 60 65.4% 26 87.5% 8 N/A -
Outside Numbers Right 88.1% 42 78.9% 19 75.0% 16 31.3% 16

Flacco completed 64.4 percent of his passes in 2015. Marc Trestman's scheme was a complete departure from Gary Kubiak's. Trestman's scheme emphasized short throws and screens. Flacco led the league with 28.1 percent of his completions coming on plays where the ball didn't travel farther than 2 yards past the line of scrimmage. This artificially bloated Flacco's completion percentage. Despite playing in that favorable scheme, his accuracy rate of 76.9 percent ranked 19th out of the 35 quarterbacks charted in the Pre-Snap Reads Quarterback Catalogue. Flacco ranked just one spot ahead of Kirk Cousins, who was at 76.3 percent; both players were far behind Sam Bradford, who was accurate on 83.5 percent of his throws.

As the above chart shows, Flacco was extremely inaccurate throwing the ball downfield. He was relatively inaccurate on shorter throws, but he could still complete them at a high rate because those throws typically come with a low degree of difficulty.

The numbers from the Pre-Snap Reads Quarterback Catalogue account for the quality of each quarterback's receivers. While Flacco's receivers weren't good in 2015, they weren't the primary reason for his struggles. Flacco was wildly missing his targets too often, with his receivers only costing him a completion on an accurate pass once every 16.5 attempts -- only three quarterbacks had a more favorable ratio. Having receivers with greater catch radiuses could have helped Flacco, but it feels fraudulent to give him that benefit of the doubt considering how poor his accuracy was in 2015. He wasn't just missing slightly.

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The play in the above GIF comes from the Ravens' very first drive of the season against the Denver Broncos in Week 1. The Ravens are at their own 38-yard line facing a third-and-7. Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Philips is aggressive, sending a blitz that the Ravens protection is able to account for. Flacco understands in this situation that he has to hold the ball to let his preferred route develop, but he also understands that doing so will likely lead to a hit after he has released the ball. The perfect play in this scenario would have seen Flacco delivering the ball when he did, but doing so with his feet planted in a natural position beneath him. Because Flacco knows the rush is coming, he shows off fear and reacts terribly.

Before he ever begins his throwing motion, Flacco's heavy feet and rigid body can be seen. He doesn't comfortably stay on the balls of his feet or turn his shoulders with his intended receiver, instead only turning his head so he releases the ball too far away from his body. Flacco's feet should be flat; instead he has moved them so that he can completely avoid the hit he would possibly take had they been planted in the right position. Flacco looks like he is entering a squat on a stool next to the bar as the ball comes out of his hand. If you've ever thrown anything in your life, you'll know that's not an ideal way to transfer your weight so you can keep your balance and, in turn, keep control of your accuracy.

Throwing the ball like this is difficult no matter where you are trying to throw it, but it obviously makes throwing the ball downfield extremely difficult. Flacco has a strong arm, but his mechanics meant that he was accurate on just six of 24 throws that traveled 26 or more yards past the line of scrimmage last season. That's an accuracy rate of just 25 percent!

As early as Week 2 we saw multiple examples of Flacco's awful deep accuracy.

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The first clip from that game against the Oakland Raiders can be seen above. Flacco isn't a quarterback who moves much in the pocket. His inclination is to move back or run rather than mitigate pressure with subtle movements. As such, the ball was regularly coming out earlier than it needed to. On this play, Flacco doesn't have to rush his throw, but he does anyway. That lack of poise is paired with a throwing motion that sees him move backwards while raising his body onto his toes. Inevitably, the ball floats and arrives short of its intended destination. The receiver wasn't at fault on this play. He could have worked back through the defensive back better, but that wouldn't change the fact that he was bailing out a bad throw from his quarterback. Had Flacco thrown an accurate pass, the receiver would have had a relatively easy reception, even a touchdown, because he had beaten Neiko Thorpe, the Raiders cornerback.

When you're paying a quarterback -- any quarterback -- big money, you expect him to be able to function in less-than-ideal conditions. That doesn't mean he has to be able to elevate everyone around him on every play, but he should always take the right approach to put himself in the best position to succeed. Process over results if you must. In this second play below, you can see how poorly Flacco reacts when the pressure cranks up very slightly.

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Aldon Smith is able to work his way through the Ravens left tackle as Flacco gets to the top of his drop. Again, Flacco will have time to deliver the ball cleanly, but he will also understand that he is going to be hit after he releases the ball. He has to show toughness here. He has to stand in and take the hit to maintain mechanical discipline and give his receiver a chance. Once more, you can see how Flacco doesn't extend his left foot, instead bringing it back as he winds up to release the ball so that he is in that leaning/sitting stance again. Predictably, the ball floats far away from its intended target and should be intercepted by the arriving safety. This isn't an easy pass to complete, but this level of pressure shouldn't immediately result in such a wild throw either.

Flacco was pressured on just 22.8 percent of his plays last year. Twenty-five quarterbacks faced pressure more often than he did. That has been the case throughout his career as the Ravens have generally employed good linemen. He was pressured on 23.0 percent of his plays in 2014, 25.1 percent in 2013, 20.9 percent in 2012, and 22.7 percent in 2011.

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After that lucky escape against the Raiders in Week 2, Flacco repeated his mistake and was punished a week later against the Cincinnati Bengals. Pressure once again causes Flacco to release the ball falling backwards without his feet set beneath him. That wasn't the sole reason for this interception though. Flacco's process was extremely slow, a recurring issue for him, so he was late throwing to a receiver who would have been fortunate to have a chance even if the ball had arrived on time. Kyle Juszczyk was completely wiped out by Adam Jones at the line of scrimmage. Jones had one of the easiest interceptions of his career and could have run it back for an easy touchdown had Juszczyk not been aware of his presence to make the tackle.

Late in the fourth quarter of the same game, the Ravens were trailing by four and facing a third-and-3 deep in their own territory. A player celebrated for his ability to come through in the clutch needed to come through.

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Interior pressure is problematic for all quarterbacks. It completely disrupts your setup in the pocket because you can't step forward to avoid it. You have to move laterally or drop a shoulder, taking your eyes away from the coverage downfield. You need to combine fluid athleticism and poise in the pocket to handle interior pressure. Flacco can run in space, but he's the exact opposite of a fluid athlete. The above play shows off his inability to move his feet quickly and his tentativeness against interior pressure. Steve Smith has beaten his man; he's wide open for the first down and a lot more. Flacco can't make a simple throw because he is hopping into the air and moving in the wrong direction as he releases the ball.

The throw is all arm and no body.

It's something you can see constantly on Flacco's tape over the past few years. His feet are heavier than ever, so his process in the pocket is slower than ever. Instead of shifting his weight and squaring off to his intended target, his feet point outwards like Krusty the Clown. The above play comes from Week 4 during the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Flacco had major issues deciphering Keith Butler's coverages during this game, but that was overshadowed by two field goal drives, one in the fourth and one in overtime, that snatched an unlikely victory for the Ravens. There are two ways to look at that game. You can either focus on the team result and give Flacco the credit for bringing his team back late, or you can look at the whole picture and evaluate his play as an individual through all four quarters, or five as it happened to be in this game.

Ozzie Newsome would like you to do the former, but in the context of his season and how he has played over recent years, it's hard to give him that benefit of the doubt.

During the Ravens' Super Bowl run, Flacco's performances were a constant source of debate. He was playing relatively well, and most fans acknowledged that, but those who played off his performances as flawless were countered with two arguments more than any other. One was Rahim Moore's disaster in Denver. Flacco was fortunate not to be intercepted by Moore at a critical point late in the game when he heaved the ball downfield for a huge play. Moore clearly misread the pass and missed out on a turnover that could have ended the Ravens' season with Flacco taking all the blame. The second argument against Flacco's quality of performance was his over-reliance on Anquan Boldin. Boldin caught 22 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns in four playoff games that season, and a lot of that production came from Flacco simply throwing the ball up for him to go and get it.

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Throwing the ball up between players is something Flacco does too often. There's a difference between being aggressively attacking tight coverage and simply throwing the ball up, hoping that your receiver can win it. Flacco doesn't do enough to give his receiver the advantage at the catch point in these situations. This is an issue that was highlighted more in 2015 because of the limited quality of his receivers. In the above GIF, you can see a play from Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns. Mechanics or accuracy are less of an issue on this play than the decision is. The Browns are playing quarters coverage and Joe Haden is playing on the right side of the defense. Haden follows Chris Givens from the beginning of the play, and Flacco can see him in position when he releases the ball. This isn't a shot that the quarterback should take, but if he's going to take it he has to try and lead Givens infield more than he did. This isn't a 50-50 ball, it's an 80-20 ball in favor of Haden.

Haden not only had a chance to catch it, he should have caught it.

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Just a few weeks later, Flacco made almost a carbon copy of that mistake against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He wasn't punished by the defensive back on that occasion either. That play can be seen above.

Decision making is a major problem for Flacco. He makes the types of plays that would earn other quarterbacks the “He can't run his offense” comments, and he makes them regularly. Starting for a Super Bowl-winning team four years ago shouldn't make you untouchable, nor should it mean that we are apathetic when you play such terrible football. It should really do the opposite, yet when Flacco makes these kinds of plays and keeps getting rewarded we barely bat an eyelid.

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This was the worst interception of the 2015 season. No matter how many times you watch the above GIF, you won't be able to figure out what Flacco could have reasonably been trying to do. Was he looking to hit the crosser coming from the other side of the field? If so, he was about 20 yards too far to the left. Was he looking to hit the shallower receiver on the far sideline? If so, he was about 20 yards too far downfield and to the right, not to mention the underneath defender who could have undercut any pass. Was he trying to throw the ball away? That is feasible but unlikely and illogical.

Finding a rational line of thinking for the previous play is a lot easier than finding one for the play below.

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Against the St. Louis Rams, in a game where Flacco had two horrendously bad interceptions, this was his most appalling decision. Facing a fourth down while losing early in the third quarter, Flacco checks down to a covered receiver from a clean pocket. His fullback would have had to break James Laurinaitis' tackle and at least one more tackle after that to even get close to the first-down line. Flacco can't argue he was trying to set up a punt; he can't even argue that he was trying to push the opposition further into their own territory. The play made no sense regardless of what his receivers were doing downfield. When you do look at the receivers downfield, the decision looks even worse because there was a good chance that Maxx Williams could have had a first down in the right seam with a good throw.

Newsome can talk about what the Ravens achieved as a team with Flacco as their starter more than three years ago, but what matters is what he is likely to do moving forward. In 2015 he was truly terrible. He was worse than the subpar or average floor that we tend to put on quarterbacks who have had sustained success in the past. He was worse than Kirk Cousins, much worse than Sam Bradford. The Flacco who started for the Ravens last year had major accuracy issues, made terrible decisions, and showed off no poise. A lot of his problems emanated from footwork and his fear of his lower body getting hit. If that problem was bad last year, it only projects to be worse next year after knee surgery.

Posted by: Cian Fahey on 30 Jun 2016

28 comments, Last at 08 Jul 2016, 3:08am by RobotBoy

Comments

1
by Dave Bernreuther :: Thu, 06/30/2016 - 2:48pm

Thank you for this.

I liked the Flacco pick when they made it, but he hasn't ever gotten any better. He has always had a big arm but been the master of the underthrown ball - which is the root of him always being "good at drawing DPI." I wish the site I wrote in 2011 still existed so I could link to the things I wrote about his first massive contract. I still shudder thinking back to some of the absolutely putrid games I saw from him in the 08-10 years where they'd still win due to defense or a cheap penalty. I still maintain that he cost the team more points in that fateful Evans drop AFCCG than his receivers (or his coach) in 2011. The worst one was a 10-9 Jets-Ravens game where it really did seem like both QBs were actively trying to give the game away. (2010 I think.)

He's bad. He's going to get worse. And now Ozzie, universally lauded as one of the top GMs, has given him a second bad contract. Is it any wonder the team fell off a cliff in 2015 after they had been limited in their ability to pay other players due to his terrible contract?

He still has all the ability in the world, so he's still capable of good things. And I guess that's still more than you can say about a lot of other starters, so it's terrifying to consider not paying him and facing the unknown again... but man, they have paid him a LOT of money to be bad. I have a really hard time seeing it get any better. It's a tough call to admit that you're better off dumping him than caving to the leverage his cap number gave him, but it's likely that that'll end up being the better decision.

2
by Travis :: Thu, 06/30/2016 - 3:15pm

Flacco led the league in pass interference yards in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014 due to underthrows like the one shown above.

The checkdown to the fullback reminds me of the season-saving 4th-and-29 checkdown where Ray Rice ran through about 8 Chargers to get to the sticks.

3
by timeforchange :: Thu, 06/30/2016 - 3:34pm

The ravens were 8-2 heading into SD in 2012.

Please explain how the 4th and 29 play was a season saving play.

A loss would have made them 8-3.

4
by Travis :: Thu, 06/30/2016 - 3:39pm

I meant to write GAME-saving, not season-saving. Apologies.

5
by timeforchange :: Thu, 06/30/2016 - 4:47pm

In 2008, Larry Fitzgerald went 30/546 and 7 TDs in four playoff games, making several phenomenal catches on imperfect passes.

I do not recall ANYONE criticizing Warner for "over-reliance" on Fitzgerald.

Seems strange to levy such criticism on Flacco with respect to Boldin.

6
by Cian Fahey :: Thu, 06/30/2016 - 5:00pm

Because it's not just about the numbers, it's about how those numbers came about. Big difference between throwing precision passes to timing routes that lead receivers to space against throwing the ball up into the air for your receiver to do all the work.

7
by timeforchange :: Thu, 06/30/2016 - 5:27pm

So every single one of Warner's 42 targets to Fitzgerald were precise?

The key term in the article, used in quotes, was over-reliance, which is a mere usage stat.

Even if every single pass of Warner's was perfect (which isn't true), he still "over-relied" on Fitzgerald, according to the premise set forth in the article.

So why is it OK for Warner but a knock on Flacco?

I mean watch this:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm-iLEhYW8o

The announcer at :24-28 literally says "Warner just threw it up, and knew Fitzgerald would come down with it"

I challenge you to watch that video and maintain your position of "big difference between throwing precision passes to timing routes that lead receivers to space against throwing the ball up into the air for your receiver to do all the work."

Warner was throwing up prayers throughout and Fitzgerald was leaping to snag them.

8
by dank067 :: Thu, 06/30/2016 - 7:49pm

There are a lot of very nicely-placed deep passes and end zone lobs by Warner in that video!

Yeah, some jump balls too. I don't think Cian ever claimed that every single one of Warner's passes was perfect or that he never threw a jump ball.

Even granting that Warner struggled to find consistency over the course of his career as a whole, he was able to sustain success over multiple seasons in two different eras, and that 2008 playoff run coincides with one of them. He was also known for his precision and anticipation. Flacco has never consistently produced at that level, has seen his production zig-zag up and down, particularly over the last 5-6 years, and the four game playoff run in 2012 is still a major outlier.

9
by timeforchange :: Thu, 06/30/2016 - 8:39pm

Yes, Warner produced...when paired with two top shelf WR pairs: Holt/Bruce and Fitzgerald/Boldin. Being surrounded by top shelf skill players tends to stabilize a QB's statistical output.

When has Flacco ever had such surrounding talent? Never. Perhaps if Flacco had been paired ONCE (let alone TWICE, like Warner) with an elite WR pair, you might see a correlation with the consistency of his stats. As it is, his #1 WR usually varies from year to year, except they always seem to be 30+ years of age (Mason, Boldin, Smith, and now potentially Wallace). Hardly ideal. And certainly far removed from the likes of a Holt/Bruce and/or Fitzgerald/Boldin combination (in the primes of their careers, no less).

So let's not act as if all of these QB's are given the same deck of cards to work with.

And let's also not pretend like those jump balls from Warner to Fitzgerald are any different than those from Flacco to Boldin. That would be quite disingenuous.

11
by Scott Kacsmar :: Thu, 06/30/2016 - 11:21pm

Receivers just don't thrive with Flacco because of his erratic accuracy.

Look at the plus-minus since 2006.

Torrey Smith
-11.8 with Flacco
+1.3 with Kap, -1.0 with Gabbert

Derrick Mason
+18.9 with Flacco (331 attempts)
+14.4 with McNair (145 attempts)

Anquan Boldin
-1.8 with Flacco
+22.7 with Warner
+10.7 with Kap
-7.2 with Leinart
-1.2 with Gabbert

Steve Smith
-1.3 with Flacco
+7.2 with Delhomme
0.4 with Newton
-0.9 with M.Moore

Mason numbers are good, but not so much on the rest.

14
by timeforchange :: Fri, 07/01/2016 - 5:38am

In the real world, Torrey Smith got paid $40M for "thriving" with Joe Flacco.

The real world, outside of Football Outsiders, that is. The real world, where real things happen on a football field, and aren't condensed and confined to fit self-promotion based metric systems that are closed for peer review/scrutiny.

And what is the value of showing a +/- when a WR was 10-15 years younger compared to, say, age 36? We're supposed to just accept the premise that Steve Smith at age 24 playing with Delhomme is no different than Steve Smith at age 36 playing with Flacco? That the comparison is on equal footing? No time adjustments are made for +/-? No scheme/route adjustments?

15
by Scott Kacsmar :: Fri, 07/01/2016 - 6:05am

I see you're commenting now instead of just stalking us on Twitter.

None of those seasons were older than 2006. You talk about Mason being younger (still 32-33), but what about McNair being older on his last legs in Baltimore? Those aren't the Tennessee seasons. What about Boldin doing better in SF after leaving BAL? What about Torrey Smith's numbers last year in SF? Those Steve Smith numbers came in his 30's too with Cam, and we don't even have his greatest season (2005).

17
by timeforchange :: Fri, 07/01/2016 - 6:25am

If I read this correctly...you're saying that no, the +/- "stat" doesn't take into account age, scheme, routes, etc.

as for Boldin in SF, he was targeted more, on different routes, than in Baltimore.

Whether or not that was "better" when ran through the mysterious Football Outsiders filter is up to you. I'm sure you'll make it say whatever you want it to say, and we'll be none the wiser.

20
by theslothook :: Sat, 07/02/2016 - 2:05pm

Do you really think FO's numbers are rigged specifically so that Joe Flacco can look worse?

21
by timeforchange :: Sun, 07/03/2016 - 8:57am

I think the data is presented in a way that is dependent upon who is presenting it and their personal opinion of the QB they are asked to write about. Which colors the commentary in a way that goes beyond mere analysis of the stats.

22
by theslothook :: Sun, 07/03/2016 - 2:15pm

Thats true of every statistical analysis ever done. In any case, when a number of stats paint the same general picture, it tends to be compelling.

13
by Joshua Sebold :: Fri, 07/01/2016 - 2:55am

If you watched a few games of tape on Warner you would see that comparing the two is insane.

Warner was lacking in pocket pocket presence but he could read a defense,rip through progressions at high speed and throw down field with authority, even while being hit.

He threw the ball early and with anticipation and had no regard for the pass rush. Flacco is ponderous and timid by comparison, his throws are late and indecisive. He panics under pressure.

Warner threw the ball up to Fitzgerald, a taller, lanky receiver, in favorable positions.

Flacco is a chucker and every year it becomes more likely that it's all he'll ever be.

He throws a lot of deep balls hoping for pass interference or that defenders will fall down running after speedy receivers. Not an elite downfield passer like Warner was.

16
by timeforchange :: Fri, 07/01/2016 - 6:13am

So what youre implying is that there is no difference throwing to Fitzgerald/Boldin vs Torrey Smith/Marlon Brown?

That a QB would have the same level of production across each set of WRs, all other things being equal?

24
by Scott C :: Tue, 07/05/2016 - 2:01pm

You put words in other people's mouth too often.

Please stop telling other people what they are saying, cherry-picking and reducing the breadth of their statement down into something you can attack. Its a clear sign of debate desperation.

10
by jonnyblazin :: Thu, 06/30/2016 - 9:57pm

I agree with the premise of the article the Flacco's mechanics have gone to crap and his reading of coverage hasn't improved much at all. Most disappointing is Flacco's inability to make pre-snap reads and audibles, he does it occasionally but nowhere near the extent of other veteran QB's.

I disagree with the idea that Flacco's 2012 playoff performance was based on luck jump balls to Boldin though. Most plays he diagnosed single coverage and threw a great ball that the WR could make a play on. You can't knock Flacco for that, that's pretty much how Aaron Rodgers plays half the time.

But clearly Flacco has really matched that level of play since 2012, his mechanics got much worse after he had to endure truly awful OL play in 2013. He also got paid, which may or may not have influenced his willingness to take a hit.

23
by garion333 :: Tue, 07/05/2016 - 11:12am

If anything, Flacco should be dinged for not having relied on Q more during the regular season. You get the ball near Q, he'll catch it. I was yelling that at the TV for a couple of seasons before Joe Cool finally realized it.

12
by theslothook :: Thu, 06/30/2016 - 11:25pm

Was kirk cousins really mediocre last year
? Im not sold on him yet either but the skins pass o was pretty good as was his qbr. Pretty hard to have a good pass o without getting some solid qb play.

18
by timeforchange :: Fri, 07/01/2016 - 6:33am

You can paint any picture you want if you frame it right.

19
by jtr :: Sat, 07/02/2016 - 1:54pm

Cian, all this analysis is great and all, but you never answered the key question: IS JOE FLACCO ELITE?

25
by RobotBoy :: Thu, 07/07/2016 - 4:02am

But Cian, Mr. Flacco always so speaks so highly of you.
This is spot on. Which makes the fact that the Ravens always give the Patriots such difficulties even more frustrating. You'd think Belichick would be able to better take advantage of Flacco's weaknesses. I guess the Ravens offense is often good in spite of Flacco's shortcomings (and their defense is consistently dangerous, even in down years). That airball Flacco hoisted up in the Jacksonville game GIF is almost a mirror of image of his throw in the conference finals in 2015, except the safety (Harmon, I think) was playing deep and didn't have to look back for the ball, making it one of the easiest picks you'll ever see.

27
by theslothook :: Thu, 07/07/2016 - 12:47pm

In fairness, Flacco really did play well in those playoff games. I think it was more coincidence then anything, but it wasn't like he was spraying the ball everywhere and the dbs all had hands of stone.

28
by RobotBoy :: Fri, 07/08/2016 - 3:08am

Absolutely. He generally plays well against NE. My sense is that Belichick plays the odds and designs his defense to take advantage of Flacco's weaknesses but Flacco is good enough that he's going to have the occasional great game, and all too often, it's been against NE (although it might be that Belichick is running schemes that actually benefit Flacco in some way, or perhaps its a personnel issue for NE).

26
by tuluse :: Thu, 07/07/2016 - 12:23pm

Cian any chance you want to look at Jay Cutler last year? It seems like he made huge strides (rather late in his career), and I'd love to get your take on it.