James Urban has seen plenty of Joe Flacco over the years.
But he's only caught Baltimore's franchise quarterback out of the corner of his eye from the Cincinnati Bengals sidelines. Urban, the Ravens' new quarterbacks coach, came to Baltimore this offseason after spending seven years as the wide receivers coach in Cincinnati.
Urban has long been impressed with Flacco from a distance, and a top focus now is to get a stronger grasp on his new quarterback's game.
"Beyond the physical tools – it's obvious he's a football player," Urban said. "It's obvious football is very important to him. It's obvious that he's a tough guy – mentally, physically tough guy. Those kinds of guys have careers like he's had – very successful, lot of wins, lot of playoff appearances, and we want to get back to doing those things."
Since getting hired two weeks ago, Urban has gone to the film to learn more about Flacco. NFL rules limit contact between players and coaches during the offseason, but there aren't any limitations on the amount of tape a new coach can study.
"I just kind of dive in and try to absorb it all," Urban said. "You can try to get a feel for how he plays the game."
Flacco is coming off a year where he completed 64 percent of his passes for 3,141 yards with 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
It was really a tale of two seasons for the 10-year veteran. He was limited by a back issue early in the season and the Ravens also dealt with injuries to the offensive line and receiving corps. His quarterback rating through the first nine games was 72.7, but that mark improved to 89.1 over the final seven games as the Ravens ramped up their offensive aggressiveness.
Flacco never used the back issue as an excuse, but missing all of training camp and the preseason clearly took a toll. It was the second year in a row that Flacco was limited in the offseason because of an injury, as he was also coming off the torn ACL in 2016.
Urban is excited to have Flacco healthy this year.
"It will be great to get an offseason," Urban said. "He's had a couple of injuries the last couple of years that have taken away some of that very important, foundation, offseason time and training camp time."
Before going to Cincinnati, Urban spent time as the quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia where he coached Pro Bowlers Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick. He also worked with Mornhinweg and Head Coach John Harbaugh there as assistant coaches under Andy Reid.
That familiarity made him a natural fit for the job when he became available this offseason.
Urban will be the sixth quarterback coach Flacco has worked with in his NFL career. He's had Hue Jackson, Jim Zorn, Jim Caldwell, Rick Dennison and Marty Mornhinweg. Offensive Coordinators Cam Cameron and Mornhinweg had stints where they also handled the quarterbacks room, which Mornhinweg has done for the last year and a half.
Urban's arrival will be another change in the quarterbacks room – the offensive system will remain the same – and Urban is confident that the transition will be seamless for him and Flacco.
"One of the things about Joe is that he's a pro," Urban said. "He's been through this. He knows. We'll get that going once we get together."