Joe Flacco Getting Better With Age


Joe Flacco is coming off his finest season yet, and all he sees is things getting better from here.

"I feel like I'm getting better, and when that day comes where I'm not getting better anymore, then that's when you probably know it's time to hang it up," Flacco said after Thursday's training camp practice. "So I hope that's not for a while."

Yes, Flacco hit the big 3-0 this past January. But he doesn't see why age should slow him down – at least not for a while. Actually, he feels like he's hitting his physical peak, and should continue to grow each year mentally.

"Listen, it's not like I'm a guy that's going out there and running around for 800 yards a season," Flacco said with a chuckle.

"To be honest with you, as long as you keep your body healthy, a quarterback … Quarterback is a position where you should get better as you age. Obviously, there comes a point where you start to decline, but I don't know why that age can't be 45 if you really want it to be."

Staying healthy – knock on wood – hasn't been and shouldn't be a problem for Flacco. He has never missed a football game at any level (high school, college or the NFL) due to injury.

Flacco entered the league in 2008 as a more lanky 6-foot-6 quarterback. Since then, he's added bulk to his frame and added arm strength.

"I think when you come into the league … you think you're this real physical guy, even as a quarterback – not that I'm [especially] physical – but you think you're as big as you're going to be," Flacco said. "But you realize you're a little kid.

"So coming in, probably the last two years at 30 years old now – it's funny – but I feel like I'm starting to finally mature. So I think there is definitely a physical peak for people, and it's probably a little bit later than most people would believe."

The majority of a quarterback's work is done between the ears. There's knowing the playbook forwards and backwards, understanding defenses and what adjustments they may make, then making split-second and accurate reads once the ball is snapped.

All of that should improve with age, Flacco feels.

"Mentally, I think there's no reason that you can't get better and better and better. And at my position, that's a lot of it," he said.

"It's not like we're sitting back there and making eight guys miss and throwing a pass. You're dropping back within a 4x4-yard area, and you're throwing a football. I've just got to keep my arm in shape and stay healthy, and as long as I keep my head right, that's really what it comes down to."

Last year, Flacco threw for a career-high in yards (3,986) and touchdowns (27), and tossed 12 interceptions, down from 22 the year before and on par with his career average. Flacco has a new offensive coordinator and new, young targets this year, which is nothing new for him.

So if he's hitting his physical peak, improving mentally each day and gelling with his targets, Flacco should be in line to improve on his 2014 results.

"He was really good to begin with, and he has gotten better every year like you would hope," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He never stops improving. I think that's how the great ones are."

Harbaugh was asked whether he feels honored, or lucky, to have been with Flacco from the beginning of his Baltimore era in 2008.

"I feel blessed," Harbaugh said. "I feel like that must have been part of the grand, master plan. The grand, master plan was for Flacco and Harbaugh to be together, I guess. I'm sure glad. … But we have a long way to go, man. We have a lot of mountains to climb, still. We'll see where we go."

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