I’ve commented at a couple points throughout training camp, both on here and on my Twitter account (if you aren’t already following me, get with it, would ya?) that Joe Flacco looks like a different guy this summer.
The fourth-year quarterback seems to have a swagger about him, on the field and off it.
He’s unafraid to march up to a wide receiver during practice and tell him he ran the wrong route, or to talk a little trash at Terrell Suggs when the linebacker gets burned on a play.
He approaches sessions with the media with a calm, confident nature that even the ever-poised Flacco didn’t have in previous seasons, and is willing to publicly come out and say that he feels, despite the criticism he’s received, that he’s “pretty damn good”.
Flacco says he wants to be the guy whose performance carries the Ravens to wins, and who gets the blame when things don’t go the team’s way.
So far this camp, we’ve seen all of that out of Flacco. What we haven’t yet seen - and won’t, until the Sept. 11 regular season opener against the Steelers - is whether the Ravens’ quarterback will be allowed to take more control over the offense when the bright lights come on.
A year after ranking 22nd in the league in total yardage, the Ravens entered this offseason saying that they plan on giving Flacco more of a hands-on role when it comes to managing the offense.
They claim they’ll allow him more freedom at the line of scrimmage to make adjustments when he deems them necessary, and say that they want him to work hand-in-hand with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to help take the unit to the next level.
It’s hard to say from an outside observer’s perspective whether that’s been the case throughout the first three weeks of training camp - when you don’t know the original play-call, it’s hard to tell whether Flacco is truly making adjustments at the line or whether his barking and pointing is just meant to throw off the defense - but head coach John Harbaugh says that the quarterback has had much more input with the offense recently.
“I think we’ve seen that a lot,” Harbaugh said. “It’s just been built into the offense in the offseason. I said it last year a lot, that there’s more stuff in there than you realize, but there’s more this year. I think Cam 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. Some plays we come out, call and run it. We call it a carry play, call and run it, we’re just going to run the play no matter what. We’re protected in all of our runs. Or, if it’s a pass, it’s just called.
“But, I’d say at least half the plays are plays, maybe more - it’s going to change from week to week - but in training camp, at least half of the plays we’ve called out here have been plays where he’s had a choice to make a decision. He changes a run to another direction. He changes a run to a pass. He changes a pass to a maximum protection or back to a run, and he’s done a great job with that.”
Seemingly each year that has gone by in Flacco’s career, the Ravens have said that they plan to open the playbook up a bit more and give the quarterback more ability to manage the game on his own.
Still, there have been times where Flacco has seemed frustrated with his lack of flexibility when it comes to making adjustments with the original play-call, or with his overall role within the offensive gameplanning.
Flacco appears to have a different confidence about him this year. Throughout the next couple months, we’ll have to see if the Ravens will show some additional confidence in Flacco.