Flacco In Position To Succeed

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Back in the first week of February, Owner Steve Bisciotti, General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Baltimore's coaches huddled in a room to discuss the state of the Ravens.

It's was an important meeting in which a number of different topics were discussed.

Among the chief questions: How do we help Joe Flacco?

By the end of the meeting, Newsome made a promise to all those in attendance. "We will get more downfield receivers for Flacco," he said.

Nearly five months later, on the eve of training camp, the Ravens can look back and say they have gone above and beyond Newsome's pledge.

The franchise and Flacco himself have explored numerous avenues this offseason to put the third-year quarterback in a better position to succeed.

"I think if you look back, you can say we didn't get where we wanted to get last year," Flacco said. "And we definitely added some pieces to help us get there. So we're definitely rejuvenated and ready for the season to start."

Let's go back to the beginning of the offseason…

  • Jan. 30 –Ravens add Quarterbacks Coach Jim Zorn
    What It Means: The departure of Hugh Jackson, whom Flacco had a close relationship with, hurt. Zorn is a proven former quarterback with unconventional methods and a track record of success.
  • Feb. 17 – Ravens sign free agent wide receiver Donte' Stallworth
    What It Means: Baltimore had been lacking that homerun threat. Stallworth's speed adds another dimension to the deep passing game.
  • March 8 – Ravens trade 3rd- and 4th-round draft picks to the Arizona Cardinals for wide receiver Anquan Boldin
    What It Means: Whatever your definition of a No. 1 receiver is, Boldin should fit. He's a proven, physical, Pro Bowl receiver that instantly upgrades the passing attack.
  • March 10 – Ravens re-sign wide receiver Derrick Mason
    What It Means: Flacco's got his favorite pair of jeans back. Mason and Flacco have great chemistry and it's beneficial that Flacco will have a familiar face despite an overhauled receiving attack.
  • Early March – Flacco, Offensive CoordinatorCam Cameron and Zorn go to Southern California to work out with a pitching coach
    What It Means: The sessions focused on strengthening the muscles around Flacco's shoulder, which could help improve his accuracy, arm strength and longevity.
  • April 23 & 24 – Ravens draft tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta
    What It Means: Baltimore didn't get much production out of the No. 2 tight end spot last year, so this gives Flacco more big targets and the offense increased options.
  • June – Cameron gives Flacco an "advanced version" of the offense during Organized Team Activities
    What It Means: By diving deeper into the playbook during practice, Cameron is showing that he's taking the reins off his signal-caller.
  • June – Zorn focuses on improving Flacco's mobility
    What It Means: Flacco took 36 sacks last year, 13th-most in the NFL. The offensive line largely plays into that, but if Flacco can better slide in the pocket he might find better passing lanes and avoid more hits.
  • July 13 – Ravens sign quarterback Marc Bulger
    What It Means: Flacco has never had a proven veteran quarterback behind him. Bulger should be a good sounding board and has knowledge to share.
  • July – Flacco visits Todd Heap and Pitta in Arizona; works out with Boldin, Harper in Owings Mills
    What It Means: Flacco has put in the extra work, including with Boldin and Harper (pictured above) in Owings Mills Wednesday. That dedication should not only help build relationships off the field, but boost on-field chemistry.

While all of this certainly adds to Flacco's chances for success, it also adds to the expectations of the Ravens' signal-caller. And Flacco knows it.

"The [fans'] expectations are up there," said Flacco, who met with about 200 fans during a recent autograph session. "But that's what you want. We're excited and therefore they should be excited. We like that they are excited."

Still, not surprisingly, Flacco doesn't seem overcome by the opportunity ahead of him.

"We definitely got some weapons and I feel good about it," Flacco said. "But we've still got to go out there and play."

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