The Little Things Make Flacco So Dang Likable
I believe Jeff Zrebiec hit the nail on the head as to why Joe Flacco is so dang likeable.
Actually, it goes beyond likability. It's why the franchise quarterback is a respected leader in the Ravens locker room.
"There's always been a lot of attention on [Flacco's] leadership qualities, and it's well-documented that Flacco is not a big rah-rah guy," The Baltimore Sun reporter wrote last week. "But there are little things that he does or says that don't get a whole lot of attention, but they further endear him to teammates."
Yup, it's the hundreds of little things that, if you're not paying close attention, you can easily miss.
For example, when's the last time you heard Flacco throw one of his teammates under the bus?
Try never. And he's had plenty of opportunities.
Media practically served up on a silver platter a chance to blast backup center John Urschel after multiple bad shotgun snaps in last week's win over San Diego.
Top offensive playmaker Steve Smith Sr. went down for the season, leaving Flacco several former undrafted rookie receivers and a guy (Chris Givens) he's still getting to know after a midseason trade.
Flacco struck the perfect balance in addressing that issue.
"Flacco was asked about John Urschel's struggles snapping the football after the natural guard replaced an injured Jeremy Zuttah at center," wrote Zrebiec. "With a wide smile, Flacco described the snaps as 'perfect' and made light of the situation. In the same news conference, he expressed the right amount of respect and regret for Smith going down while also maintaining extreme confidence in his healthy receivers, which he has done all year."
Flacco isn't going to bounce off the walls and pound his chest in order to get you to notice his leadership, but do you think Urschel and Smith noticed last week?
"He took care of me," Urschel said of Flacco. "I'm very thankful for that."
Four offensive coordinators in four years? While several media members have said the turnover could, and should, be considered when evaluating Flacco this season, the veteran quarterback says it's overblown. I'm willing to bet Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman appreciates that attitude.
If you need an honest evaluation of his play, however, Flacco always displays accountability and owns up to his mistakes. He's shows mercy on his teammates, but he's harsh on himself, calling an interception earlier this season "stupid" and "really dumb."
"You may not think that type of thing is a big deal, but teammates, coaches and team officials take notice of it, and it is one of many reasons why Flacco is so well-liked and respected at the team facility," wrote Zrebiec. "The next time he throws a teammate under the bus will be the first."
(I need to throw in another "likeable" moment from last week's game. How can you not love Flacco's priceless reaction to the shirtless guy in the stands?)
5 Second-Half Predictions: Joe Flacco, Jimmy Smith And Chris Givens Will All ShineNeed a shot of optimism as the Ravens get back to work this Monday morning after a restful bye week?
WNST's Luke Jones provides just that with his five predictions for the second half of the season:
1. "Flacco will remind the Ravens that reworking his contract won't be cheap this offseason."
Nobody can expect Flacco to go on a tear like he did during the Super Bowl XLVII run just before he sat down at the negotiating table in 2013. His receiving corps is just too banged up for something like that. But Jones says Flacco will find a way to make the offense play at a "respectable level." With a scheduled $28.55 million cap hit next season, both the Ravens and Flacco knew they'd be re-working the deal. "Flacco will play well enough to remind Ozzie Newsome that he can lead the Ravens to the top, especially if the general manager assembles an acceptable group of talent around him unlike two of the last three seasons," wrote Jones.
2. "Jimmy Smith will start playing more like the cornerback the Ravens signed to a long-term deal last spring."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said Smith was playing "tentative" this season and his surgically-repaired Lisfranc foot injury may be a factor. But in Jones' eyes, Smith has played better lately and believes he'll "begin regaining that [No. 1 cornerback] form in the second half."
3. "Rookie Buck Allen will emerge as a viable offensive weapon coming out of the backfield."
With No. 2 running back Lorenzo Taliaferro landing on injured reserve, Allen has made the most of his opportunities with increased snaps. And with Steve Smith going down, the Ravens will need to lean on more than just the other receivers to make up the slack. The tight ends and running backs will also need to step up, and Jones believes Allen will be key with his explosiveness and strong hands out of the backfield. "To keep Forsett fresh and to determine whether Allen can at least be a strong No. 2 option, Marc Trestman will give the rookie more opportunities and he will take full advantage," Jones wrote.
4. "Chris Givens and Terrence Brooks will become starters by the end of the season." *Givens' snaps keep increasing, and for the first time last week, he saw more snaps than Marlon Brown. So it's not a crazy to think he could take the No. 2 receiver spot from Brown."*Givens isn't a long-term starter, but he will make enough plays to warrant keeping him around as an option to use in three- and four-wide sets in 2016," wrote Jones. "Meanwhile, veteran Kendrick Lewis has disappointed at safety, and it's time for the Ravens to see whether Brooks can be a viable starter moving forward. At the very least, he'll wrestle away the job from Lewis."
5. The Ravens will finish with a 6-10 record to earn a top 10 pick in the 2016 draft.
We went over schedule predictions last week. The Ravens aren't joking when the say they want to go 8-0, but few people outside the locker room believe it will happen. If they do, that's one heck of a story. If they finish 6-10, as Jones suggests, they'll get a pretty nice position in the draft order and a "heck of a shot in the arm for a roster lacking elite players."
Week 9 Outcomes Didn't Help Much
Welp. Yesterday's games weren't very helpful.
If the Ravens are going to mount a second-half comeback, they are going to need some key wild-card contenders to drop a couple of games along the way. That didn't happen much Sunday.
Our own Garrett Downing looked at four games heading into the day, suggesting which teams needed to lose for the Ravens' sake. Instead, all four won.
Bills 33, Dolphins 17Both are wild-card contenders, but the Ravens still play the Dolphins and have the chance to knock them back. Baltimore won't have the same opportunity against the Bills. So it would have been nice for Miami (3-5) to give Buffalo (4-4) another loss, but that didn't happen.* *
Jets 28, Jaguars 23This is another case where the Ravens will be able to knock an AFC opponent back themselves, so a Jaguars win would have been more manageable. Instead,* *the Jets, now at 5-3, are much harder to catch in the standings. The Ravens host the Jaguars (2-6) this Sunday.
Steelers 38, Raiders 35To be honest, a loss for either side would have been helpful to the Ravens, but nobody in Baltimore likes to see the Steelers enjoy any success. Oakland now stands at 4-4, and Pittsburgh owns the sixth wild-card spot with a 5-4 record. While the Steelers notched a win,* *they'll have to move forward without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger … again. In his second game back from a knee injury, Roethlisberger left the game with a foot injury.
Colts 27, Broncos 24Bah! Denver picked a heck of time to lose its first game of the season. It would have been best for the Broncos to continue their undefeated streak and run away with their division, but they allowed the Colts, now 4-5, breathe new life. The crazy thing is that Indianapolis is at the top of their division with a losing record. Must be nice.