Maybe Cam Cameron’s play-calling needs real work; the Ravens’ offensive coordinator inexplicably did not have Ray Rice touch the ball once in the fourth quarter in a loss to Pittsburgh last week.
Maybe there is a ton of a pressure on the quarterback of a franchise that needs its 25th-ranked defense to be bailed out by the offense when it has always been the other way around in Baltimore.
Either way, here’s my belief of why Flacco’s ascent to top-five quarterback hasn’t happened: He obsesses too much about being considered by others among the best instead of actually just going out and becoming that guy. He wants Tom Brady- and Aaron Rodgers-type affirmation without either of their résumés.
“I mean, I think I’m the best,” Flacco said when asked where he ranks in the NFL this past offseason. “I don’t think I’m top five; I think I’m the best. I don’t think I’d be very successful at my job if I didn’t feel that way. I mean, c’mon. That’s not really too tough of a question.”
Premier quarterbacks in this league don’t have the abysmal road performances Flacco has had this season, including a bang-up 55.6 QB rating at Kansas City. They don’t lose at home to Steelers’ last-ditch quarterback Charlie Batch, who last started in the NFL in, like, 1947. They don’t, on fourth and 29 with the game on the line, check down a dump-off pass to Rice, who saved Flacco from professional incineration by somehow getting 30 yards in the greatest play of this regular season, RGIII’s run against the Vikings included.
This is all you have to know about how many rungs Flacco has climbed on the Best-Quarterback-in-the-Game ladder this season:
One guy leads a 9-3 team onto FedEx Field on Sunday and his counterpart behind center leads a 6-6 team. And nobody but a politically correct John Harbaugh would take the 9-3 guy over the .500 rookie for the Washington Redskins.
More than speaking to Robert Griffin III’s early brilliance and long-term upside, it speaks to Flacco’s inability to be viewed as a premier NFL quarterback 12 games into his fifth season.
Leadership is such an intangible, especially if you haven’t been in an NFL huddle. But at the same time, there are things you can sense. When teams belonging to Brady, Rodgers and Peyton Manning trail by less than a touchdown in the final minutes, the opponent’s defense and fan base are instantly on their heels, wary of what’s going to happen.
If the Ravens trail your team by more than a field goal and Flacco is under center, there isn’t half that concern. Mr. Uninspiring might be strong, but if Flacco was my guidance counselor in high school, I don’t know if I would have graduated.