Joe Flacco is used to limiting mistakes, playing smart and keeping the ball in the Ravens’ hands.
This year has been difficult in that regard.
Not that it’s all Flacco’s fault - because it isn’t - but the Ravens quarterback isn’t posting numbers befitting the second-highest paid player in the NFL. Flacco’s 58.6 completion percentage would be the second-lowest of his career. His 13 interceptions are already a career high with six games to go. His 33 sacks taken put him on pace for a career high, as well.
He has also passed for 2,469 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Flacco has been at a disadvantage because of Baltimore’s running troubles, which is forcing him to pass more. He also has had to contend with significant pass-catching losses, as Anquan Boldin was dealt to the 49ers and Dennis Pitta has yet to play this season because of injury. Undrafted rookie Marlon Brown has been the most effective addition to the receiver group.
Given those factors, it certainly isn’t all on Flacco.
But how would the quarterback assess his own (and the Ravens’) season?
“We’re disappointed in the way we’ve played. We all wish we could play better. I wish I could play better,” Flacco said. “I think last week we ran the ball a little bit better. We did some things really well. We just need to continue to build on that. The last couple of weeks, we’ve done things well.
“Listen, we all wish we could play better, and that starts with me. So, yeah, when you’re a 4-6 football team, obviously you haven’t played the way you’ve wanted to or the way you think you could. ... But, up to this point, no, I haven’t and we haven’t played the way that we want to - or should.”
The high number of picks bother Flacco more than anything else. The 28-year-old entered this season with just 56 interceptions in his first 80 career games. This year, he has 13 in 10 contests.
“I am a guy that does not like to throw interceptions,” he said. “Believe me, I don’t like the fact that when you look at what we’ve done, that I’ve thrown 13 interceptions. Come on, I don’t like that. I was talking to my dad driving home from the facility one day and, yeah, it’s annoying. Believe me, I’d tell you if I didn’t think I was being patient, and if I thought I was throwing the ball to the wrong spot or just not seeing guys and stuff like that.
“I’ve thrown more picks than I’d like to, I’ve thrown more picks than I should, but at the same time, I still feel like I am playing patient football. I feel like I’m still taking some chances that I need to take. I’ve thrown more picks - I have to live with that. It’s not something that I like though, no.”
Wideout Torrey Smith, who leads Baltimore with 46 receptions for 785 yards, doesn’t believe Flacco deserves all the blame for the interceptions.
“We all do, as an offense,” Smith said. “One person’s mistake - it’s really on all of us to make up for it. Obviously, there are some things that are individual mistakes, but with interceptions, there are a lot of things that happen - batted balls or receivers tipping it or anything. So it’s not all on Joe.”
Despite one rough season, coach John Harbaugh’s opinion of Flacco hasn’t diminished.
“I will tell you this about Joe Flacco: Joe is a great quarterback. Joe is our quarterback; he’s my quarterback. Does anybody have any doubt about that at this point? I know we don’t,” Harbaugh said. “Joe has played great football, and Joe is going to continue to play great football - even better (football). Look at the plays he’s made scrambling around, making throws and things like that. That’s the answer to that one.”