Ravens Have Most Important Piece: Championship-Caliber Quarterback

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There's no shortage of teams looking for starting quarterbacks this week at the NFL Scouting Combine, whether they be on the Lucas Oil Field Stadium turf or in trade/free agency talks.

The Ravens are not one of those teams, as Head Coach John Harbaugh reiterated Wednesday while speaking with the media.

Though Flacco had some struggles last year, Harbaugh and the Ravens see him as the central point of their team, and the player they are building around. Harbaugh said he has no doubt that the Ravens will contend for a championship next year, and that starts with his confidence in Flacco.

"The biggest thing, I think, in terms of where we are as a football team, is that we have a quarterback," Harbaugh said.

"We have a championship-caliber quarterback. We have a guy we can go win with. We have a guy that's capable of carrying a football team and has done it in the past."

Flacco's 2012 championship run, in which he threw 11 touchdowns to zero interceptions in route to the Super Bowl XLVII MVP, proved what Flacco is capable of.

The Ravens have rewarded him with two contract extensions since then, making him one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league. Now they are looking to get back to that Super Bowl level.

Flacco had a standout season in 2014, in which he threw for 3,986 yards and tossed 27 touchdowns to 12 interceptions in leading the Ravens to the divisional playoffs. His 2015 campaign was marred by a season-ending knee injury.

Coming off the ACL tear last year, Flacco started all 16 games. He threw for a career-high 4,317 yards (partly because he attempted a career-high 672 passes), tossed 20 touchdowns to 15 interceptions, and completed a career-high 64.9 percent of his passes.

However, Flacco's 83.5 quarterback rating ranked 24th in the NFL. His average of 6.4 yards per attempt was tied for a career low and ranked 27th in the NFL. The Ravens offense wasn't consistent throughout the season, and finished 17th in the league in yards per game.

The Ravens and Flacco are confident that he will be better next year with more recovery time since the knee injury, which will enable Flacco to be in better physical and mental shape heading into next year. He'll be able to practice more with his targets.

Harbaugh and Baltimore's front office is also determined to put better pieces around Flacco, from a dominant offensive line to playmakers both at receiver and in the backfield. The Ravens want to give Flacco more help by improving their rushing attack and balancing the offense.

"We need to do everything we can to put a football team around our championship-caliber quarterback," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh said the coaching staff will get to work on the schemes and game plans to give the players the best chance to be successful. Then they will put the players in the best position to "compete for, and win, a championship."

"But the No. 1 piece we have in place is the most important piece, and that's the quarterback," Harbaugh said.

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