(I really hope you’re a fan of the Avett Brothers. Otherwise the headline to this column might seem a bit silly.)
If you’re a regular listener to “The Reality Check” (and why the hell wouldn’t you be?), you might remember I took a certain NFL.com columnist to task a few weeks ago.
You may remember this particular headline…
You may remember more some of the things Schein said about the quarterback (who was at the time at the helm of a 9-2 football team)…
“I never have trusted Flacco. Right now, it looks like I never will.
Sure, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback played great against the New England Patriots in the AFC title game last season. If receiver Lee Evans had been able to hold on to the ball, maybe we would all have a different perspective of Flacco.
But he’s been very ordinary this year. There’s likely a reason that the super-savvy Ravens organization has seemed reluctant to give a new deal to Flacco, even though he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2013. He hasn’t taken his game — or his team — to the next level.
Baltimore is 9-2. But who believes in the Ravens as a Super Bowl team? I don’t. Flacco was average at best (completing 30 of 51 passes for 355 yards and one touchdown) in Sunday’s squeaker of a winover the San Diego Chargers. Perhaps lost in the discussion of Ray Rice’s majestic run after the catch on fourth-and-29 from his own 37 was the fact that Flacco checked down on fourth-and-29.
In a loss to the Houston Texans in Week 7, Flacco was horrible. In a win against the Cleveland Brownsin Week 9, Flacco started hot and made a big throw late, but slept through the rest of the game. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11, Flacco threw for just 164 yards. Yes, he torched the Oakland Raiders in Week 10, but he was facing a Raiders ”defense” that is an embarrassment to professional sports.”
I went immediately after Schein, taking him to task for suggesting a quarterback who had done nothing but win big games (including at least one playoff game in each of his first four seasons) could somehow “not be trusted.”
I thought it crazy, in fact.
I went on a bit of a crusade. I called Schein out when he appeared unwilling to come on the show and discuss the column (he claimed to me that wasn’t the case and that scheduling conflicts were the reason the appearance hadn’t happened) and even addressed the subject publicly with Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. I allowed him the opportunity to answer the question “why do you trust Joe Flacco?” and he responded with a simple “I don’t feel like I have to explain that.”
While he wasn’t happy with the question, I told Harbaugh personally to the side that I understood the answer. In the same way that I found it insane to suggest Flacco “couldn’t be trusted”, there was no reason for the head coach to feel anything different.
Much has changed in three weeks.
By no means do I feel as though I owe Schein an apology, as there was no way I or Adam or anyone else could have seen the last three weeks go quite this way. Leading up to Week 13, there really was no LEGITIMATE reason for anyone to say they couldn’t “trust” Joe Flacco. Unless of course the sentence was finished with something like “…to throw for 300 yards in every game the rest of the way.”
But just a mere three weeks later, there are very few of us who feel particularly comfortable about the Baltimore Ravens quarterback. If pressed right now, I might well say “I can’t trust Joe Flacco.”
What a difference three weeks makes.
The fact that Flacco hasn’t posted standout numbers in recent weeks isn’t quite as concerning as some of the other issues surrounding his play. In each of the past three weeks Flacco has committed at least one “game-changing” type of turnover. There’s a difference between an early game fumble on third and short in the middle of the field (which Flacco was guilty of in the first quarter of the loss to the Denver Broncos Sunday) and an interception thrown on first and goal returned 98 yards for a touchdown (which S Chris Harris made happen late in the second quarter Sunday).
Combine that play with a critical fumble deep in Baltimore territory two weeks ago to set up the tying score in what would ultimately be a Pittsburgh Steelers victory and a very poor decision to throw a ball as he was falling a week ago that London Fletcher would intercept to help the Washington Redskins get a win at FedEx Field and Flacco’s three week span has produced some of the worst plays of his now five year career.
We really are at a point where you have to wonder if Joe Flacco can be trusted.
The Baltimore Ravens haven’t lost three straight games because of Joe Flacco alone. Injuries on the defensive side of the ball have left the unit decimated, while the Offensive Line has continued to betray the quarterback and alter the tone of the entire offensive attack. There have been a number of questionable coaching decisions, whether they be timeouts, challenges, or as we saw Sunday-some issues related to when to bench a quarterback and even struggles with simple math after scoring a touchdown.
They’re all major issues that face this football team as they head into their fifth consecutive trip to the postseason.
But we’d all feel much better about them if we felt like we could trust the guy under center.
As Drew Forrester said earlier at WNST.net, these are a big few weeks for Flacco. They could be particularly uncomfortable for the entire Ravens organization as they look toward the future or they could be the most important moments that shape the future of for all parties involved.
It would be a bit more comforting if we felt like we could trust him down the stretch.
Ugh. Perhaps Adam Schein was right.