But in Sunday’s game against the Colts, Flacco rolled outside the pocket more than usual, which was a focus for the Ravens heading into the game.
“Moving the pocket has been a goal of ours, and it’s going to be important in this next game, also,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday.
Flacco responded well to moving out of the pocket and finished with 12-of-23 passing for 282 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 125.6 quarterback rating. That quarterback rating was the best in the NFL during wild-card weekend.
Part of the reason the Ravens wanted to get Flacco on the move was to help neutralize the dangerous pass rush of the Colts, led by veterans Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. The move worked, as Flacco was sacked just once and hit only twice.
“Joe made some tremendous throws,” Harbaugh said. “He made some throws under pressure, with those two guys coming off the edge. He got hit a couple times, but he made the throws.”
Flacco had time to throw, and even when the pass rush was giving chase, Flacco was able to get on the run to extend the play and still look downfield for an open receiver.
“Whenever you have great edge pass rushers you need to move the pocket,” Harbaugh said. “They have been working hard on [that] – whether it’s stepping up in the pocket making plays or stepping outside and making plays when the pass rushers lose contain and then keeping the play alive and trying to make some throws while he’s doing that.”
Flacco doesn’t run often – he carried 32 times for 22 yards and three touchdowns this year – but the fifth-year quarterback can pull down the football and take off if he sees open space.
“Joe can run,” Harbaugh said. “He’s faster than people think, so he can get out of there and run for some yards too.”
Moving outside the pocket will once again be a priority this weekend for Flacco and the offense, and the Ravens will go up against one of the top pass rushes in the league. The Broncos are led by veteran defensive end Elvis Dumervil and linebacker Von Miller.
“They just get tremendous pass rush,” Harbaugh said. “We are going to see two of the best pass rushers in football again this week.”
Miller, a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, led the Broncos with a franchise-record 18.5 sacks. He finished the regular season ranked in the top five in the NFL for sacks, quarterback knockdowns, quarterback hurries, tackles for loss and forced fumbles.
Dumervil finished with 11 sacks and six forced fumbles.
In the Week 15 matchup with the Broncos earlier this season, the Broncos’ pass rush gave Flacco problems throughout the game and they finished with three sacks and nine quarterback hits.
Neutralizing that pass rush will once again be a priority for the Ravens this weekend, and if last week was any indication, Flacco’s mobility could be part of the solution against the Broncos.