Earlier this season, the concern was that Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco's completion percentage was below 49%, which was among the lowest of any starter in the NFL. Over the past few weeks, it's risen a bit and now stands at 54.8% for the season. At the same time, Flacco is way ahead of the pace to throw more passes than he has in any of his previous three years in his career. The scary stat is not only is this far behind his past years percentage, it is currently the lowest completion percentage of any QB in the entire league who has started for their team since the beginning of the season.
Interestingly, only one QB in the NFL has attempted more passes than Flacco and that is the New England Patriots' Tom Brady. Brady has only thrown one more pass than Flacco, but has completed 40 more passes (66%). Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has attempted seven fewer passes than his AFC North counterpart, but has 26 more completions to show for it (63%). With a 54.8% completion rate, Joe has completed only 198 of his 361 attempts.
In comparison to other quarterback on winning teams, Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (73%) and New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (71%) join both Brady and Roethlisberger far ahead of Flacco. To show you how poor of a completion rate this is, Indianapolis QB Curtis Painter is right behind Flacco with a 54.7% rate for the winless (0-10) Colts.
Flacco's completion percentage for his first three years in the league were 60% (2008), 63% (2009) and 62% (2010). If Flacco was completing passes at the same rate of his rookie year, which was his previous low, that would equal 217 completions in this year's 361 attempts. That comes out to 19 more completions this year. Had he even only matched his best season so far (2009), he would have proportionately completed 227 passes at this point, a whopping 29 more passes that he has so far in 2011.
With anywhere from 19 to 29 more completions, that could easily have been the difference between winning and losing and certainly could have resulted in at least two more victories this season. The loss to the Tennessee Titans was so complete that I doubt Flacco's improvement in completion percentage would have still made a difference in the outcome. However, a few more completions in either of the losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars and most recently the Seattle Seahawks, would have definitely put the Ravens in position to win both games which were losses by less than a touchdown.
Realizing that this is pure speculation, it is still a major concern and cause for worry going forward. A continuing increase in completion percentage over the remaining seven regular season games would go a long way to putting the Ravens either comfortably ahead in these close games or well within position to win every game on their schedule. Two to three more completions per game could result in critical first downs to keep drives alive and lead to points on the scoreboard. It also extends drives for the offense and turns the time of possession battles in the Ravens favor by keeping the opponents offenses on the sidelines.
A good time to put this "speculation" to the test would be this Sunday when Baltimore hosts the Cincinnati Bengals, with the lead in the AFC North on the line, at least for the Ravens. What do you say, Joe?