Inside Joe Flacco And Steve Smith's Relationship


Joe Flacco has lost his best pal and top target, tight end Dennis Pitta, for the remainder of the season, but he may be developing another one.

Flacco and wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. have hit it off during their relatively short time together in Baltimore, and the two spoke about their budding relationship Wednesday.

It would be easy to see the balance of power in the relationship tilting toward Smith. After all, he's more established, and has a gigantic personality. He's not afraid to say anything, anytime.

But Flacco's got a strong personality as well, something many people don't realize or give him credit for.

Smith said that during his first training camp practice he told Flacco, "Joe! I was open!" after Flacco didn't throw his way. Flacco simply responded, "Get your depth." Flacco was essentially telling him to run the right route and then he would throw him the ball.

It's a subtle, but obvious show of power, and Smith liked it.

"We always keep each other accountable and we push each other and we try to improve," Smith said. "And I experienced that very quickly with Joe. I appreciate that."

Flacco has clearly found comfort in throwing to Smith. Smith has the most targets of any player on the team (31), 10 more than Pitta and 12 more than wide receiver Torrey Smith.

Flacco downplayed that it's because of any special "chemistry" he already has with the veteran.

"My job is to hit people when they're open," he said. "So, no matter who it was, if they're getting open, it should be pretty easy, and that's what [Smith] does."

Flacco was asked if he's going to try to get Smith the ball early this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers in an effort to get Smith's competitive juices flowing versus his former team. The quarterback turned it into a joke, showing his comfort level.

"If I pay attention to that maniac on Sunday, who knows how I'm going to play?" Flacco said, smiling.

"He's going to want the ball probably every single down, and if I don't get it to him, and I pay attention to how he reacts to that, then I'm going to be in trouble, and I'm going to feel bad, and then we're not going to play the way we should."

Smith and Flacco have a sort of yin-and-yang demeanor on Sundays. Smith talks trash, spins balls after big catches, and generally rages. Flacco's always at the same level. He'll pump his fist and yell after throwing a touchdown, but that's about the only emotion he shows.

Smith took notice of that in the Ravens' first game against Cincinnati. Smith had a rough start with a couple of drops, and other receivers also let the ball hit the turf. Smith expected Flacco to chide the group in an effort to motivate them.

Instead, Flacco just called the play in the huddle and shouted out the usual, "break!"

"I kind of left [the huddle] like, 'That's it?'" Smith said. "I expected someone to step up and be emotional, and it was nothing like that."

Smith responded with an 80-yard touchdown that gave the Ravens a brief lead late in the game.

Smith saw more of Flacco's demeanor last Sunday in Cleveland. The Ravens were in a back-and-forth affair against the Bengals and needed a late fourth-quarter comeback. Flacco and Smith hooked up for the deciding 32-yard gain.

"One of the coolest things is how calming Joe is," Smith said after the game. "Throughout the whole game, good or bad, Joe stays the same.

"I've always worked well in chaos, but as I've continued playing, I prefer feeling calm. For that reason, it's so refreshing to have a quarterback that makes the huddle so calm. It's so much easier to concentrate and do our job."

On the flip side, Flacco likes Smith's intensity on game days.

"He makes it very known what kind of personality he has, and he makes it very known what kind of player he is, because he goes out there and plays so well every week," Flacco said with a smile.

It's not all about football though. The two are developing a feel for each other outside the white lines. A couple weeks ago, Smith casually asked Flacco what he thought of him so far.

"What's my deal?" Smith bluntly asked the quarterback. "He goes, 'You're a little bit goofier than what I thought you were.'

"I can play ball and I can be intense, but at the same time, we can joke around and have fun, and that's what we do. During the week, that's what it's all about. But on Sunday, it's about playing ball. It's the real deal."

Smith was asked to name the best quarterback he's played with during his 14 seasons. He said Jake Delhomme because they went to the Super Bowl together in 2004, when the Panthers lost to the Patriots.

So can Flacco, the Super Bowl XLVII MVP, and Smith reach that pinnacle together? Only time will tell, but if they do, Smith may have a new answer.

"I'm not loyal to companies," Smith said. "I'm loyal to people."

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