Flacco bashing by vocal minority of Ravens fans comes into perspective

February 09, 2012 | Luke Jones

Flacco bashing by vocal minority of Ravens fans comes into perspective

In the final days of the Ravens’ 2011 season, it was difficult to say which was more exhausting: the vocal minority of fans bashing quarterback Joe Flacco or the increased amount of complaining about those select few.

(And to be clear, this commentary doesn’t mean Flacco is infallible and exempt from criticism, either. We’re talking about those who have made irrational suggestions such as benching the Baltimore starter and inserting the rookie Tyrod Taylor.)

But it’s certainly come into perspective this week if you’ve paid any attention to the New England area and the fallout of the Patriots’ 21-17 loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.

It started with this scathing piece from Boston Globe writer Eric Wilbur in which all-world quarterback Tom Brady was labeled an “embarrassment” after the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl for the second time in five years. And the vocal simpletons (see the comments section) have followed suit, declaring Brady as washed up and even going as far as suggesting the Patriots trade him for whatever value they can get and begin the next era of New England football.

Yes, a small portion of New England fans are suggesting they run one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history out of town. The same man who led the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles in four years and threw for 39 touchdown passes and over 5,000 yards this season on his way to leading the Patriots to a 14-4 record and an AFC championship despite a woeful defense.

It certainly puts the extreme Flacco criticism into context, doesn’t it?

More than anything, the venomous thoughts toward a future Hall of Fame quarterback only prove this type of vocal minority of extreme detractors exist in every sports city in America. A certain segment of fans will never be satisfied no matter how successful their teams might be, as is evident in Boston where seven championships from the four major sports have been won over the last 11 years.

We all know someone (multiple people?) who refuses to be happy with his or her life no matter how many blessings they might have when they stop to think.

Why would the population of sports fans be any different?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to place my order for a Ryan Mallett Patriots jersey.

Retire, Ricky, retire

Though running back Ricky Williams’ retirement announcement was mildly surprising after proclaiming his enthusiasm for the 2012 season in the days following the AFC championship game, the Ravens shouldn’t — and won’t — be worked up by the veteran backup’s departure.

There are always at least five or six running backs of Williams’ ability at this stage of his career available in the free-agent market. Williams will be 35 years old by the start of the 2012 season, and there’s no guarantee he would have been able to duplicate his steady average of 4.1 yards per carry that he owned this past season. Anthony Allen will likely see an increased role, or at least an increased opportunity, to earn that role in training camp.

Whether it’s signing a veteran in the open market or looking to April’s draft, the Ravens will improve their depth at the running back position behind Ray Rice. Owner Steve Bisciotti has already said Rice will not be going anywhere despite the Pro Bowl back being set to become an unrestricted free agent in March.

It’s hard to imagine Williams’ retirement having any impact whatsoever on contract negotiations with Rice’s representation, and the Ravens will simply use the franchise tag on their feature back should they be unable to reach a long-term agreement by March 5.

However, Williams calling it a career does open the door for a farfetched but intriguing scenario to potentially play out with Rice. Let’s assume the two sides are unable to reach a long-term deal, Rice plays with the franchise tag in 2012, and the Ravens look to bolster their depth at running back in the middle rounds of the draft.

What would the Ravens do if they found a diamond in the rough with that draft pick, much in the same way they saw such potential in Rice after selecting him in the second round of the 2008 draft? Knowing the limited shelf life for running backs in the NFL, would they consider allowing Rice to walk the following season if this unnamed running back appeared capable of handling the starting job?

Again, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that happening, but Williams’ decision to walk away from the game forces the Ravens to explore other options at the position, and you never know what they might discover in the process.

Caldwell effect

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5 Comments For This Post

  1. joe of bel air Says:

    Luke: I know Coach Harbaugh has been supportive of Cundiff and has refused to throw him under the bus but do you really think Cundiff will be our place kicker come September 9, 2012. I always wondered why Cundiff was unemployed in 2009 when the Ravens signed him to replace Haushka. In looking at his statistics up to that point Cundiff converted roughly 73% of his FGs since coming into the league, well below the 80% for most good field goal kickers. Then in 2010 he caught lightening in a bottle and converted well above his average when he hit on 89% of his FGs. Then in 2011 he hits on 75% which is a lot closer to his career average than was 2010. Which is the real Billy Cundiff and do you think Harbaugh is going to bring in someone such as Shane Graham who has a legitimate shot at beating him out.

    (L.J. – Thanks for reading, Joe. I do think the Ravens will bring in a legitimate kicker to compete with Cundiff in training camp. It’s going to take some major gumption for him to recover from that miss, but I don’t know if the Ravens will ever be able to trust him. My gut says the Ravens start 2012 with a new kicker, but I do think they’re going to give him every chance in the preseason to prove himself. Tough situation for all parties involved, because you don’t want to simply cut your losses and risk being in a position like in 2009 when neither Hauschka nor Gano were capable of handling the job.)

  2. unitastoberry Says:

    Eric Wilbur must be talking to a white horse hes crazy! Boston has a culture of winning in so many sports. Brady still has a chance for 4 rings.However,the Jesus status about getting 5 is never going to happen for him. Unitas played in 5 championship games and or Superbowls. Technically he won 4 because in 68/69 the Colts were the NFL champs losing to the AFL champs in Superbowl 3. Can you imagine Steadman,Goldstein,Tantun,Henneman,Jackman writing an article like that? No way.

    (L.J. – Completely insane, and you’re right. He was very clearly going for shock value, and to his credit, it worked.)

  3. Keeb Says:

    I wonder if Ricky is ‘retiring’ so that he can avoid drug testing in the offeseason… He’ll be back on the field next year…

  4. Darryl Says:

    Look, I think both sides of the debate could use a healthy dose of realism. Flacco may not be the best, but he’s the best we could do in the circumstance we were in. Yes, he’s managed (or managed not to get in the way of, depending on who you ask) to get us to 4 straight post seasons. We need to re-sign him and keep him happy.

    You can name on one hand (if that) the number of quality QBs available in the 2008 Draft. Matt Ryan, our Joe, and Matt Flynn (yet to be truely tested). That’s it.

    The naysayers can easily say to your Boston analogy “well, how many playoffs do you think Flacco would have gone to if he kept his offense and had New England’s ’08-’11 Defenses?”

    At the end of the day it’s all useless speculation.

    For better or worse, he’s the guy that Ozzie and Steve and John choose, and that makes him ours. So suck it up, and learn to deal with losses like the fans of the 30 other franchises in this league.

  5. Darryl Says:

    *30 that also didn’t taste the sweetness of winning it all, that is.

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