Baltimore Ravens: Can Flacco live up to the hype?

Following an outstanding playoff run resulting in a Super Bowl victory, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was rewarded with a six-year, $120.6 million contract. Unfortunately for Flacco, accepting a large sum of money like that will be putting him under a microscope (more so than an NFL quarterback already is subject to).  The Super Bowl XLVII MVP has spent a good part of his NFL career being scrutinized about his “elite” status as a quarterback. But while that debate is still going on, there are a few things to look for from Flacco this upcoming season that could help the discussion.

Baltimore Ravens

Joe Flacco (Photo credit: Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

1. Consistency

In the 2012 postseason, Flacco played four of the best games of his career, one after another.  It started with his performance in the Ravens 24-9 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Wild Card round of the 2012-2013 season playoffs. In Denver, his 70-yard launch to Jacoby Jones with about thirty seconds left in regulation was another one for the books. After a double-overtime winning field goal in the Mile High City, the Ravens made their way to New England, where Flacco looked relaxed throwing pass after pass for a 28-13 win over the Patriots. Lastly, he lead his team to Super Bowl victory and claimed the title of Super Bowl MVP.

But do not expect Flacco’s most recent playoff run to carry into the 2013 season right away. The quarterback has been notorious for his inconsistency in the regular season. With a lot of young receivers on offense this year, it may take a little while to adjust. Joe Flacco has always seemed to struggle toward the beginning of the season and always hits his prime right around playoff time, which is great for the Ravens in the postseason. However, without a great regular season record, the road to the Super Bowl becomes a little more difficult.

2. Another playoff opportunity

Like every other NFL team, the Ravens would love to have a first round bye in the playoffs. Even with the odds already stacked against Flacco in the season opener against the Denver Broncos, he has to focus on one game at a time if he wants to lead his team to the playoffs with a first round bye.

Flacco only trails seven other quarterbacks in NFL history with the most playoff wins. Notching nine postseason wins in only five seasons, it is no mystery that Flacco has his sights set on more playoff wins. If his last playoff run was no indication, Flacco has the potential to lead his team to the playoffs again. He just has to pick up where he left off back in February.

3. More of a leadership role

It’s no secret that Ray Lewis was the Ravens leader for quite some time. But don’t be surprised when Flacco steps up as a leader this season. Of course, “Joe Cool” is not as enthusiastic as Lewis, but he will be a leader for the team. Look for Flacco to run the no-huddle more this season. Jim Caldwell will be starting his first full season as the Ravens offensive coordinator and will be looking to Flacco to step up and help him run the offense as fluently as possible.

The Ravens have players like Terrell Suggs and Ray Rice to lead them emotionally. Flacco will be the go-to guy when it comes to leading the players out on the field during the game.

4. Better Numbers

Joe Flacco’s numbers have never been all that impressive on paper. But with the installment of Jim Caldwell, here’s to hoping that changes. Watch for Flacco to throw for more touchdowns this season with all of the eligible receivers on the Ravens’ roster. That is not to say that Ray Rice won’t be getting as many carries, but the “Flacco handoff to Rice in the middle” is getting a bit routine. If Flacco can throw for 25 touchdowns this season, file that under a great success for the quarterback.

Flacco’s quarterback rating this past season was very low, especially for a Super Bowl winning quarterback. He received a 46.8 rating last season, ranking 25th in the league. It appears that Flacco’s numbers can only go up next season. But it all goes back to consistency in order to bring up his total QBR.

Baltimore Ravens

(Photo credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Expect Flacco to lead the Baltimore Ravens to the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year as well as bringing up his numbers. But don’t expect the route to the postseason to be smooth sailing. Flacco will most likely find a way to make it, as he always does. Just hold onto hope that the quarterback will bring the same fire he brought to the postseason in the first half of the 2013 season.

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