Joe Flacco is officially a Raven thanks to some very shrewd and risky draft board manipulation by Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome. With the selection of Flacco at Number 18, the Ravens officially have their quarterback of the future, and for the City of Baltimore and the Ravens fans, patience will be our mantra for the next couple years.
It’s been 33 years since this town had a young quarterback that went from prospect to bona fide star and leader. That quarterback’s name was Bert Jones, and he led the Colts to three straight AFC East Championships from 1975-77. Since Jones, the Colts/Ravens have gone through Art Schlichter, Mike Pagel, Eric Zeier, Wally Richardson, Chris Redman, Troy Smith and Kyle Boller. Not one Pro Bowl appearance between this bunch.
In fact, mediocre would be a kind adjective to describe this group. So now comes Flacco, all six feet six inches of him, with a cannon for a right arm. We can only hope and pray that he joins Unitas and Jones, rather than Redman and Pagel, in Baltimore lore.
As fans we will have to learn to be patient with Flacco. In the last 25 years only two quarterbacks have made immediate impacts as rookies–Dan Marino and Ben Roethlisberger. The Mannings, John Elway, and Brett Favre either didn’t play as rookies or they flat out stunk as rookies. Some took a couple of years to develop.
We can’t expect Flacco to be Marino on day one or even for the first year or two, and we can’t classify this draft a bust if he doesn’t become an immediate starter or if he has a rough preseason. Rookie quarterbacks are works in progress, and the process more than the results are important in year one and maybe in year two.
Remember, we want Flacco to be our quarterback for the next 10 years, not just for the opening game next year. It might be better if it takes him most of the year before he gets into a game.
When he does play, expect bumps in the road and expect some frustration; it’s only natural. Flacco certainly has the talent, and I think he will get good coaching from Cam Cameron and Hue Jackson.
So Ravens fans, get ready. The Joe Flacco era has begun. At the very least it will make preseason very interesting. We can do our part by showing patience and letting his development come naturally.