Flacco Gets Support


Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco may be going through some common rookie struggles, but that's not keeping the Ravens from supporting him.

Despite throwing five interceptions over his last two games, Flacco's teammates are standing by their 18th-overall draft pick after he was recently declared the starter through the 2008 campaign.

Many point to Flacco's level-headed demeanor as a sign that he can shake off past transgressions and continue to move forward in his development.

"Joe's a smart guy, he knows all those things, and he's the type of guy that as soon as there's a mistake, he's quick to learn from it," said tight end Todd Heap Wednesday. "In your first year, you're going to see a lot of things, a lot of firsts, and a lot of things for the first time.

"I think that's what he's experiencing right now."

Last weekend was certainly a first for Flacco, who turned in a rough performance in a 31-3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. He tossed three picks, the most in a single game through five career starts, and came home with a 57.0 passer rating.

Whether it has been a pat on the back or a quick word on the sideline, the Ravens have been supportive of Flacco.

But according to Derrick Mason, who leads the team with 27 receptions for 331 yards, the rookie also needs to figure things out on his own.

"That's Joe: Tell him one time what he did wrong, obviously he knows, and you try to help him correct it," Mason explained. "But don't browbeat him. Let it go. Keep moving forward. But you do encourage him and [tell him to] forget about it.

"But other than that, you've got to leave the quarterback alone – let him play football."

Just like the rest of the team, Flacco has already moved on from his showing in Indianapolis.

He is looking forward to making up for the mistakes this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

"It's behind me now," Flacco stated. "We've got to go out and move on to Sunday against Miami. Obviously, we don't feel good about what happened, but the only way to fix that is to go out there against Miami and play well."

In addition, the Miami game will be another way to gain more experience, something he's craved since the Ravens selected him in the first round.

Entering the sixth start of his fledgling career, Flacco has completed 90 of 144 passes for 844 yards and one touchdown.

The interceptions? He simply tries to learn from them. Even Super Bowl XLII MVP Eli Manning had three interceptions last week when the New York Giants were soundly defeated by the Cleveland Browns.

"Guys do it every week, and come back and have a good game after that," Flacco noted. "It's all about what you do the next week. Eventually, it's going to be forgotten. It's going to be a couple of weeks in the past. It's all about what you do from that point."

Flacco's progression is crucial for an offense looking for a spark after its three-headed rushing attack – consisting of Willis McGahee, Le'Ron McClain and rookie Ray Rice – only totaled 39 yards on the ground against the Colts.

There will, at least, be some continuity with Flacco firmly placed at the helm. And Mason thinks such stability will eventually cut down on the turnovers.

"It's a situation where there are no changes, so you anticipate the same guy being under center," Mason said. "I think as the weeks go, you can build that rapport with that quarterback. The offense can start to click on all cylinders and minimize the turnovers.

"If coach says Joe is the man, then Joe is the man. It doesn't change unless the coach says it's changed."

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