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](/team/roster/joe-flacco/3e20766f-6520-4ca1-9901-44389aaea8b8/ "Joe Flacco"). A fact that will likely change how the young quarterback will be judged moving forward.
Flacco's assessment – at least by his coaches – will be created moreso by the way in which he wins games.
"We want to win because Joe's on the field," said quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn, who has been working with Flacco for the past three weeks after joining the team in January. "We don't want to win with everybody else having to play great and Joe is just surviving. We want him to lead the way. You've got to have a QB that is able to get the ball in the end zone when the run game is getting stuffed."
That's why Flacco's growth won't be judged by mere statistics in his third season.
"[Winning] may not translate into three touchdown passes a game and all those statistics, but when called upon to hand the ball off, when called upon to complete passes, or even stand strong in the pocket, I'm looking for those little things to make a difference. Not technique, per se, but running the offense.
"I would guess that will translate into touchdowns, yardage and wins, but that's all at the end of the season."
The subject was broached last week at the NFL owners meetings, when Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti talked about how the offseason additions of receivers Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and Donte' Stallworth would affect the young signal-caller.
Bisciotti believes that Flacco's work ethic would have seen him grow regardless, but it can't be denied that expectations will be higher.
"I think he will be [scrutinized more]," Bisciotti told the Baltimore Sun. "I don't know how deserved that is. I think if we had done nothing, Flacco would have grown and developed and become better at his craft because he's a worker. He's a dedicated guy. I think there is going to be more scrutiny and more expectations for Joe. But I'm glad that's happening in his third year. I think that's good for him to have the weapons so there is a challenge for him to rise to. And I believe he will rise."
Fans and pundits questioned whether Flacco regressed as a sophomore last year, even though the Ravens finished 9-7 and reached the divisional round of the playoffs.
The former first-round draft pick began the season with three 300-yard passing performances over his first six contests.
The closest he got to that mark the rest of the campaign was a 289-yard showing in Week 12 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Still, Flacco was obviously limited by a hip injury, and the Ravens were running roughshod over opposing defenses. If anything, Flacco showed leadership and toughness.
And, it should be noted that the Delaware product finished the regular season completing 315 of 499 passes for 3,613 yards (second-most in Ravens history), 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
"We can get awful critical with the statistics, but this isn't fantasy football," said Zorn, who quarterbacked for 11 years in the league, most notable logging 100 starts for the Seattle Seahawks. "Those measurables might add to the critique, but that's not necessarily what the team needs. As coaches, we really have to make sure we're looking at how we're going to utilize our best players. Is Joe one of our best players? Absolutely, and we need to utilize him. There is still a lot of growth for Joe, and I think he's willing to do that. You can see it in the work he puts in."
As Flacco began throwing in earnest this week during the Ravens' voluntary offseason football school, Zorn thinks there is a good chance for Flacco to become everyone's fantasy darling.
But while 2009 featured an NFL-record 10 quarterbacks surpassing 4,000 passing yards, a shiny new receiving corps – one that could even grow in the draft – doesn't mean Flacco must join that club to show his progression.
It would simply be a bonus.
"We'll grade Joe on a play-by-play and game-by-game basis, and those all add up to how he plays," said Zorn. " But that doesn't mean he didn't play well in a 200-yard passing game, either.""