These are tough times for the Ravens offense. Its statistical rankings have plummeted after a pair of disappointing performances. Critics are braying likes wolves on the prowl.
There's plenty to fret about, but one thing that doesn't worry the organization is how quarterback Joe Flacco will respond to the swirl of chatter and uncertainty.
"It's a compliment to Joe. You don't really worry about that with Joe," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday. "He's not going to get carried away with what the noise is. That's not something that's going to affect him too much."
Flacco's tunnel-vision and level-headedness have been evident since he led the Ravens to the AFC championship game as a rookie starter in 2008, earning him an inevitable nickname – Joe Cool.
Since then, he has been unflappable in the face of whatever the Ravens encountered, good or bad.
While critics have interpreted his response as a lack of passion or interest – a charge that Flacco, wait for it, shrugs off – few dispute that his innate steadiness helps when times are tough.
"That's a good thing, especially as a quarterback," Harbaugh said.
Flacco acknowledged Wednesday that the past two games have ranked among the most disappointing stretches of his career.
"No doubt about it. We take a lot of pride in what we do," he said. "We want to be the best. To go out there and struggle the way we have is definitely not easy, but it's part of being in this league, dealing with adversity and being able to get yourself up and get through it."
Bottom line, to no one's surprise, Flacco isn't panicking.
"You're used to having to stare this kind of stuff in the face and react to it," he said. "Hopefully, as a team, it makes us better. It puts us under a microscope, at least makes us feel that way. Hopefully we react to it in a positive way."
Tackle Ronnie Stanley, a second-year player, hasn't been in the huddle with Flacco for that long. But if Stanley's reaction is any indication, the quarterback's calm approach breeds loyalty.
"Joe knows what he's doing. He's a veteran in this league," Stanley said. "I'm going to stand behind Joe no matter what."
In 2012, as the Ravens stumbled down the stretch of the regular season, Flacco threw a pick-6 in a lopsided home loss and ended up face down on the field, a portrait of despair. All appeared lost, but by the end of the season, he had led the Ravens to a Super Bowl triumph.
"He understands that it's a long-term type of thing in terms of how you're evaluated," Harbaugh said. "He's been through ups and downs before; been doing it 10 years now. He's had the highest moments and some of the lowest moments, like any player in this league, especially at his position. "I trust in him. I believe in him. We need to roll. That's all of us, a group effort. Joe takes that on his shoulders, takes that responsibility, because he is the quarterback. That's part of what makes him who he is."