As the Ravens embark on their preparations for the 2015 regular season with several weeks of Organized Team Activity practices at the Under Armour Performance Center, Joe Flacco is dealing with change.
He's taking orders from a new offensive coordinator, Marc Trestman. He's heeding the counsel of a new quarterbacks coach, Marty Mornhinweg. His favorite deep receiver for the past four years is gone, as is the tight end who caught the most passes from him in 2014. A slew of new faces now populate the practice field, including wide receiver Breshad Perriman and tight end Maxx Williams, high 2015 draft picks.
Yes, there's also still plenty of familiarity for Flacco, ranging from John Harbaugh, the only head coach he has ever played for in the NFL, to Steve Smith Sr., a veteran wideout who caught 79 passes in 2014 in his first year of partnering with Flacco. (That was one of last year's changes. Old news.)
But you're going to be hearing a lot about Flacco and change in the coming months.
When he spoke to reporters after Thursday's OTA session, Flacco fielded questions about how the offense is different under Trestman; how Trestman's teaching style is different; how the new receivers are adjusting; what it's like throwing to new receivers, etc.
I understand it's an issue that needs to be explored; the Ravens go as their quarterback goes, so anything that could impact his performance becomes relevant.
But I don't expect the changes around Flacco to impact him in the least, certainly not in a negative way. He's used to it.
Wait, let me say that another way: He's sooooo used to it.
Flacco has worked with a different OC at the outset of each of the past four seasons. Cam Cameron was fired in 2012, Jim Caldwell became a head coach in Detroit a year ago, and Gary Kubiak became a head coach in Denver earlier this year, creating the opening Trestman filled.
Three of those four seasons with different OCs ended with playoff appearances.
As for quarterback coaches, Mornhinweg is Flacco's fifth in eight years, following Hue Jackson, Jim Zorn, Caldwell and Rick Dennison. (It's really his sixth since Cameron was a dual OC/quarterbacks coach for several years.) And as for receivers and the rest of the roster turning over, Flacco, like most veterans, is accustomed to it. Without prompting, he pointed out to reporters Thursday that he, Terrell Suggs, Sam Koch and Marshal Yanda are the only Ravens left from the team he quarterbacked as a rookie in 2008.
"That's the nature of the business," Flacco said. "There's a ton of turnover; you realize that very quickly. Coaches, the same thing."
A year ago at this time, Flacco wasn't just adjusting to a new OC (Kubiak) and a new position coach (Dennison); he was learning to operate an entirely new offense. That involved changes in everything from his footwork to the verbiage he barked. Flacco responded with the best regular-season performance of his career from a statistical standpoint.
Now, he's on his third OC in 17 months, but when a reporter asked Thursday if he expects "a little bit of an adjustment with a new coordinator and new receivers," Flacco didn't blink.
"No I don't," he said.
It's a situation that plays into the strengths of Flacco's evenhanded personality. At times over the years, some fans have yearned for him to show more emotion, become more demonstrative, but from the outset of his pro career, he has taken everything in stride, whatever that may be – good and bad plays, good and bad days, new coaches, new faces, new situations.
Maybe he isn't as excitable as some fans want, but he's unflappable, difficult to faze. (Honestly, are we still having this discussion?)
If anything, the new crew around Flacco this season might help him achieve new thresholds in consistency and overall performance. Trestman is known for getting a lot out of his quarterbacks. Perriman and Williams were drafted to put a jolt in the receiving corps.
"The biggest thing is we've got a really confident group," Flacco said, "so we just welcome anything. It's just, 'OK, yeah. It's all right. We're going to be good.'"
He's speaking from experience, having experienced many changes already, with winning records to show for it. I don't expect that to, well, change.