Not that it matters, because it’s nothing more than a side-note in a player’s media guide biography, but Justin Tucker won the Ravens MVP award on Monday afternoon.
That shouldn’t be too startling if you’ve followed the Ravens through the first fifteen weeks of the 2013 season. After all, Tucker has actually been the only “regular” on the team who has played above the bar of excellence typically reserved for players who earn MVP status.
Oddly enough, voting for Tucker for team MVP (as I did, admittedly, when the media ballots were distributed last week) was just as much a vote of deduction than anything else.
The other candidates were the three Smith’s — Jimmy, Daryl and Torrey, plus quarterback Joe Flacco.
None of those five came close to duplicating the overall excellence of Justin Tucker this season.
Now, if you’re one of those people who thinks it’s absurd for the team’s kicker to be the Most Valuable Player of the team, I’ll agree with you on that point.
Yes, I voted for Tucker. I told you that already.
But, voting for the guy and also acknowledging it’s weird to have the kicker be the team’s MVP are entirely possible when you look at what transpired this season.
In short: The Ravens offense stunk in 2013.
That eliminates Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith from the discussion.
And, while the defensive Smith’s were solid, neither of them came close to establishing the overall consistency of Tucker.
I don’t know that Jimmy Smith or Daryl Smith won any games for John Harbaugh’s team.
Justin Tucker did.
And, when you’re 8-7 and still have a puncher’s chance of making the post-season, the kicker who made the difference in four of those victories deserves the nod as the team MVP.
The kicker sure as hell isn’t the MVP in Denver, Kansas City, Seattle, Carolina or Cincinnati.
Flacco is the lightning bolt topic when it comes to the Tucker verdict in Baltimore, because he’s the $60 million man and much was expected from him after holding up both the Lombardi and MVP trophy at last February’s Super Bowl in New Orleans.
The real truth about his 2013 campaign? It’s been average, at best. Some would say he’s been less than average; some would counter and say with what he’s had to work with, Flacco has been better than average.
Mix all the opinions together, look at the team’s record and Flacco’s numbers and you get: Average.
Now, were there issues outside of Flacco’s area of responsibility?
Lack of pass blockers to protect him? You bet.
No running game to help support his arm? Absolutely.
Wide receiving group still short a quality contributor – or two? Yes, indeed.
Injury to Pitta a tough pill to swallow? Of course.
But, 19 interceptions don’t lie.
It’s one thing if Flacco doesn’t produce a 30 TD, 4,000 yard season given the limits I listed above, combined with the anticipated “Super Bowl hangover” that nearly every veteran has likely experienced to some degree in 2013.
But, he hasn’t even reached 20 TD’s yet. And he’ll need 280 yards passing at Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon to eclipse the 4,000 yard mark for the first time ever.
Not only has he thrown the ball to the other team nineteen times, and, yes, not all 19 of those are completely “on” Flacco, — a handful of the pics were deflections or balls that should have been caught by his receivers — but he’s also fumbled it eight times, with two of those recovered by the opposition.
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