Late For Work 5/27: Dukes: Flacco Has Something To Prove

Plus Troy Smith and John Beck are in competition and Fabian named one of NFL’s best tackling DBs.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, May 27th, 2010 at 9:00 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison
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Dukes: Flacco Has Something to Prove

NFL Total Access analyst Jamie Dukes pinpoints quarterback Joe Flacco as a player who has something to prove heading into the 2010 season.

Flacco is one of three young guns – Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez included – that Dukes says is holding back their Super Bowl-ready teams.

“The question becomes,” Duke explains “do these young quarterbacks take the next step? Because that’s the only thing holding these franchises back.

“I don’t mean that in a bad way. I’m just saying there’s a maturity that happens at the quarterback position that puts you in the mix, that Super Bowl mix. So if these guys can make that step, then they can get their teams in the Super Bowl.”

One can argue that Flacco is the primary force behind the Ravens’ back-to-back playoffs berths, so it would seem ironic to believe he is holding the team back from winning it all.

But Dukes clarifies by comparing Flacco to Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. If Manning threw for 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, Flacco’s 2009 numbers, then Dukes says every one would think something was really wrong with the four-time NFL Most Valuable Player.

“In other words, my point is that there is an upper-echelon at quarterback. Look what Brett Farve did last year, look what Drew Brees did last year. Their numbers are eye-popping.

“[Flacco, Ryan and Sanchez] did OK, and there’s nothing wrong [with that]. They are young quarterbacks. But I’m saying there’s another level you get to when you start talking about Brees, you start talking about Brett Farve…there’s another level that they have to get to, to be in that conversation.”

Smith, Beck Competing For No. 2 QB

Two years ago, the starting quarterback position was in Troy Smith’s grasp.

But the opportunity slipped through his fingers when he suffered a tonsil infection that led to a lung infection. Smith lost an estimated 20 pounds and was inactive for the first five games of the season, while Flacco established himself as the Ravens’ starter.

Smith became the primary backup to Flacco, but now the former Heisman Trophy winner will be competing to simply hold on to the position that he has maintained for two seasons.

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron told Jamison Hensley of the Baltimore Sun that John Beck “absolutely” has a chance to unseat Smith as the team’s No. 2 quarterback.

“John and Troy know they’re competing,” Cameron said. “They’re good friends. They’re workers. That’s the way it is.”

Competition is a long-running theme at every position under the direction of Head Coach John Harbaugh, but this season, Beck is in a better situation to do so.

As Hensley points out, not only has Beck had a year to become familiar with his new teammates and coaches, but he will also be in the same offensive system in back-to-back seasons for the first time in his four-year NFL career.

Neither Beck nor Smith has been shy about their desire to one day become a starting quarterback again. But they understand that the Ravens’ offense is lead by Flacco and are ready to compete to be his primary backup.

“I think it’s a tremendous situation for both of us, having an understanding that competition is going to get us – everybody on the field – to be their best,” Smith said. “John is one of my great friends, and Joe is a great friend of mine, too. We have an understanding. We know what our niche is here, and everybody is fitting in, having fun.”

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