Late For Work 8/18: Flacco Believes He Is A Top-5 QB

Plus Joe talks about moving on from Steelers and will Ravens make O-line move?

Posted by Mike Duffy on Thursday, August 18th, 2011 at 9:34 am | Categories: Late For Work, Mike Duffy

Flacco Believes He Is A Top-5 QB

Joining Doug Gottleib on ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt Show yesterday, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said he believes he is among the NFL’s top five at his position.

Flacco was asked about where he thought he stood in light of New York Giants signal-caller Eli Manning’s recent comments that he is a top-five NFL quarterback.

Flacco, who is coming off a season in which he set career highs in passing yards (3,622) and touchdowns (25), said he’s all for that type of talk.

In fact, he put himself in that category, as well.

“I think of myself the same way,” said the former first-round draft pick.  “Every quarterback in the league should feel that way.  You don’t want to talk about yourself as a quarterback, but here in Baltimore, we’ve won a lot of games in the last three years and been to the playoffs each year.

“When you’re talking about football games, it’s all about winning football games, and that’s what we’ve done.”

Flacco’s had his detractors, but the Ravens believe they can get back to the dance with him under center.

We believe in Joe and we believe in our coaches,” Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti recently told PSL holders in a Fan Forum conference call.

There is good reason, too. Including the post season, Flacco has produced 36 career wins, which is tied with Dan Marino for the most total victories by a starting quarterback in his first three years in NFL history.

And for guys that started in their rookie year, Flacco joins only Marino and former Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar to helm a playoff game in their first three seasons.

Flacco should have the chance to show his mettle even more this year, as the Ravens are giving him more autonomy with their offense.

[The ability to make more decisions has] been built into the offense in the offseason,” said Harbaugh.  “I said it last year a lot, there was more stuff in there than you realize. But, there’s more in there this year.

“Cam [Cameron, offensive coordinator] and the offensive coaches have done a great job of building the offense in a way that Joe really has the choice almost every play.”

Flacco II: Not Flashing Back To Steelers Game

In the same interview with Gottlieb, Flacco affirmed that he’s definitely moved on from last year’s heartbreaking loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

To set the scene, the Ravens were up 21-7 heading into the second half, but three turnovers in the third quarter quickly found Baltimore on the wrong side of the score.

“It was tough. Obviously, it’s tough whenever you lose a playoff game, especially when you come out and play the way we did in the second half,” Flacco said.  “I think it was tough for a lot of people here in Baltimore, and it was tough for us, but it’s a new year and you have to move on.  I don’t know how long it took us, but it was a tough loss.”

Flacco actually tipped his hat to the Ravens AFC North rival.

The Ravens were knocked out of the postseason twice in the past three years by the Steelers, so he understands that his team needs to get over that speed bump.

“We gotta move on. We didn’t do a good enough job to beat them,” he said. “Those games are going to be tight games, and they’re going to play until the very end.  Same with us.  We kind of just weren’t able to finish them off.  It’s something we have to live with; it’s something we’re responsible for.

“When you’re out there, you’re responsible for it and you let it get away from you, it hurts.  But at the same time, at this time of year, you have to move on and get over it.”

The Ravens open their 2011 campaign against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11 at M&T Bank Stadium.

Flacco sees that contest as an opportunity to silence the vocal critics – such as Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who said the Ravens would never make a Super Bowl with Flacco under center during the offseason.

Considering both teams figure to be in the playoff conversation this year, it’s obviously going to be a good one.

“You take it for what it is. You have to go out there and beat them,” said Flacco.  “When you go out there and beat them, they can stop talking about it.  Until then, they really have the right to say what they want to say.”

Ravens Will Make O-Line Move

CSNBaltimore’s John Eisenberg believes the Ravens will most-certainly pick up another potential starter for their offensive line via free agency before Week 1.

In that conference call, Bisciotti said that his team was “still on the hunt” for O-linemen, noting that there are still cuts that must take place.

“Their offensive line has emerged as a major concern in the wake of Matt Birk’s knee surgery, Marshal Yanda’s back spasms and the fact that, as things currently stand, they’re contemplating asking rookie Jah Reid to block Pro Bowl linebacker LaMarr Woodley in the season opener against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11,” wrote Eisenberg.

Currently, the cupboard of available free-agent linemen is somewhat bare.

There has been a lot of talk about former New York Giants center Shaun O’Hara, who is a three-time Pro Bowler, and New Orleans Saints tackle John Stinchcomb.  The Ravens have also brought in former Washington Redskins center Casey Rabach, but he failed a physical following offseason shoulder surgery.

What do the Ravens do?

“They want the best lineman with the most versatility,” wrote Eisenberg.  ”The latter quality is crucial. Although they say Birk will be ready for the season, they’re not sure. So they might need a center, but they also might need a guard if they elect to go with veterans on the right side and move Yanda to tackle, a distinct possibility.”

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