How soon we forget.
The year is 2008. Our quarterback situation is…
…well…Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed got us.
That was just about every year our history. After Vinny Testaverde left in 1997, we were not sure what we were going to get at the QB position. Thanks to our record-setting defense helping us to our Super Bowl run in 2000, we fans have relied heavily upon them to carry us, which they largely have for most of our short history.
In the 2008 draft, the Baltimore Ravens selected Joe Flacco #18. Even though he was selected that high, Kyle Boller would likely continue to be our starter, or so it looked at that time. After all, we didn’t know what we do now. No telling how this unproven rookie would be for this team who hasn’t had consistency at the quarterback position pretty much, ever. Yeah there was Troy Smith, but he wasn’t ready to be the starter just yet.
Say what you want about Boller, but he gets my respect. The quarterback position is the toughest to play. Period. It’s easy for us to sit at home and throw stones, but I would not want that job, especially with our ungrateful fans, and most of you wouldn’t either. End of story. He had his moments with us, but again…our defense has been our rock. Boller did not instill the most confidence in our fan base. I get that.
So Boller was set to start. However, in a preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, Boller suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.
Enter Troy Smith.
I was just like most of you. “YES!! OUR VERSION OF MICHAEL VICK!!” You know most of you thought this, whether you admit it or not. Vick was running all over everyone and NFL fans were in love with the super-mobile quarterback again. A QB who can put up numbers the same as running backs? We’ll take it.
However, as he was scheduled to start the third preseason game that same year, he came down with a rare disease called Lemiere’s syndrome. It is pretty serious, but rarely fatal. I remember several folks on the NFL shows were calling it “tonsillitis.”
At any rate, this meant that the quarterback who started the preseason third on the depth chart, Joe Flacco, would have to be the starter, as Smith would not be ready for the regular season.
Considering our history at the QB position, the “experts” were picking us to finish at 4-12, 5-11, or the super-generous ones lost their minds and said 6-10.
I still remember when I wrote on a Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) message board back then, to the effect that I’m still riding with this team, effectively telling our fans to either do the same or move on. I wasn’t about to jump ship. Things looked severely uncertain, but I was tired of that “Here we go again” feeling to begin every season, hoping our defense would still have plenty left.
We went 11-5 that season and lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game.
Now, before you all come on to pound me with it being “all” the defense, let me slow you down.
I get it. We were third in points and second in yards that season. Okay.
I don’t believe anyone expected Flacco to be the next Peyton Manning. But let’s remember that there have been MANY teams in league history were the defense played lights out, but they were still terrible teams. I don’t have specifics statistics on this, but I remembered that the Cardinals of much of 90’s fell into this category.
Absolutely nothing against our defense. I loved them also. But stick any one of us in that QB spot and would the Ravens had gone 11-5? Hell to the no. And we don’t even have to go that far with it.
Only seven times in our 23-year history have the Ravens’ defense finished in the top 10. We’ve won the Super Bowl only twice. And the second Super Bowl in 2013 did NOT feature one of those top-10 defenses.
We finished 17th that year.
Yeah, I know. “BUT ANQUAN BOLDIN…!”
First off, I am about the biggest Boldin fan out there. About a year and a half before the Ravens was able to get him, I heard that something was in the works. I followed Boldin when he was on the Cardinals and was practically praying that we would get him. In the 2010 offseason, it happened. I had his jersey probably before he even stepped off the plane.
The year they won that Super Bowl, Flacco accomplished something that ONLY one other quarterback in history had done by that time, which was throw for 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions en route to a Super Bowl victory. That other quarterback? A little guy by the name of Joe Montana. You might have heard of him. If you haven’t, ask some old heads about him. He’s only a Hall-of-Famer won the Super Bowl a measly four times.
Again…I love Boldin, but still any of us or other quarterbacks in there and the results are different. Boldin is a BEAST. But it took FLACCO to get those passes to him. If Boldin did it all himself, that means any one of us could have been at center. Not to give total credit to Flacco, because of course, Boldin could have dropped all those passes. But most QB-WR tandems will tell you that credit does NOT go to either one or the other. Bad passes cannot always be caught, even by great receivers. And lousy receivers can’t catch colds. Ask former New Orleans Saints QB Archie Manning about that one.
But back to 2008. Here is a player who again, was third on the depth chart of a team with truly ungrateful fans, to say the least. Yeah, I said it. And all he did was put the city on his back, setting team records along the way and for ONCE in our history, we were not sweating the quarterback position. Now it was about getting good receivers around him.
I understand where we are now in 2018. I get it. The NFL is a “What Have You Done For Me Lately” league. I don’t need anyone to explain that to me. Since that Super Bowl run, Flacco has not exactly lit up the league. We only saw the playoffs once after that until this year, despite our defensive play.
Lamar Jackson is likely the future. He is a super-mobile quarterback, which even Flacco would admit that he is NOT.
However, Flacco deserves more respect that what you have been giving him.
For him to enter into playing in this league, for this team, and for our, in many cases, sorry excuses for fair-weather fans, and do what he did, is remarkable. Flacco has MANY times earned us wins with his arm. Yes, the defense, as great as they were, had quite often NOT shown up and it was Flacco who led our teams to victories. One game in 2011 against the Arizona Cardinals, they had the lead 24-3 at halftime. Flacco led our largest comeback in team history as we finished 30-27, as he went 31 for 51 and 336 yards.
Yes, I remember Ray Rice. This is not to slight him or anyone else on the team. But this tired notion that when our Ravens win, it’s on everyone else, but when they lose, it’s on Flacco, is nonsense. If the wins are NOT on Flacco, AGAIN…stick any other quarterback in those positions. Could Kyle Boller had led a comeback like that in that same game?
This is not to slight Lamar Jackson also. You don’t have to put down one guy in favor of another. Jackson has my support just as Flacco did.
But some of you are calling Flacco everything in the book because of his play and because of Jackson being there, and frankly, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.
This isn’t about being ready to move on. I already addressed that part (see my “What Have You Done For Me Lately” above). I get how that works. But why such harsh words? We can be ready to move on while still appreciating Flacco for what he’s done for us.
The Ravens have not officially let him go just yet, but all signs point to him being out the door soon. But it isn’t as though he has played lousy for us for his entire time. He’s received little credit in all he has done, yet he continues to put in the work, especially at playoff time. Granted, we didn’t win the Super Bowl every season, but ask New England who was among their biggest threats during the playoffs. In ALL FOUR postseason games against the Patriots IN FOXBOROUGH, the series is 2-2.
Not to mention, he hasn’t thrown this team or the players under the bus as quite a few other divas in the league have. Oh, we’ve forgotten about them, right? Flacco has always been the model of class in all he has done. When fans booed him? He says he would have done the same.
Even though many of you even this season claimed that Flacco was being cold toward Lamar Jackson in the whole two and three-second camera shots you would see, that wasn’t the case at all. Some of you even falsely believed that when he was caught mouthing “That’s f**ked up,” it was because he was expecting to be brought into this year’s bad playoff loss against the Los Angeles Chargers, when Jackson played terribly. It wasn’t. It was later revealed that Flacco was saying that about Jackson being booed.
Even after the game, when reporters asked Flacco if he should have been brought into the game because of Jackson’s poor play into the fourth quarter, Flacco could have easily answered the way I’m sure MOST OF US FANS would have. Instead, he quickly shut it down with this response: “You can’t even go there, man. I thought Lamar did a great job of hanging in there and giving us a chance at the end,” giving credit for Jackson sparking a decent run in that fourth quarter in which the Ravens entered into it 23-3, finishing the game 23-17.
That doesn’t sound like someone who is bitter. I won’t hold it against him if that’s what he feels internally. We would ALL feel that way, whether you admit it or not. But he has given Jackson his support with nothing but grace and class. Aside from you seeing once in a while that Flacco wasn’t giving a Kool Aid smile for the cameras, there is no other evidence that suggests he has a problem with Jackson.
So let’s can it with all this Flacco hate. It is unnecessary. I don’t know why grown adults feel like the only way to show love to one person is to bash another. It doesn’t make sense. We can respect BOTH players as we wish Flacco the best as he is potentially on his way out. It’s not that hard.
Besides, it’s what YOU would want if we were him. Do unto others. Treat others as you would like to be treated.