Flacco Needs To Improve His Deep Throws

PITTSBURGH PA - JANUARY 15: Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens looks to pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field on January 15 2011 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Joe Flacco may be future franchise quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, but he needs to continue to improve in all areas now that he has three full years of NFL experience in his resume. Most debate has centered on his need to take control of the game and call audibles at the line of scrimmage when he reads opposing defenses. Other questions have surfaced about his inability to produce solid games when it matters most, specifically against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the post-season, where the Ravens' seasons have ended twice in the past three years.

However, another thing that he need to improve significantly on is his deep throws, specifically the ones over twenty yards. Pro Football Focus did a great in-depth story titled "Going Deep,"where they break down every single pass from the 2010 season, looking at who threw downfield the most and who did it most efficiently. The player who threw downfield the most in the NFL in 2010 was none other than Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning, who made 95 throws of over 20 yards. The next most throws downfield were by Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, whose 86 throws were tied with, are you ready for this? Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco!

Flacco may have thrown the ball downfield more than just about every other QB in the league, but his completion percentage was well down the list. Of the 31 QB's in the NFL that threw at least 30 passes of at least 20 yards, Flacco finished in the bottom ten in completion percentage. At least he had Peyton Manning down there joining him, but according to the story, at least they both weren't the Kansas City Chiefs' Matt Cassel, whose completion percentage on those long balls was the worst in the league.

Flacco had 86 attempts at over 20 yards, yet he only completed 26 of them, a completion rate of just over 30%. Only eight QB'sin the NFL with over 30 attempts finished below Joe, and only three of them had more than 60 attempts compared to his 86. At the same time, while Flacco did not have that deep threat that has been discussed so often, he still tied for the league lead with 12 TD passes of over 20 yards. Despite his low completion percentage on those deep passes, he kept putting it up and of his 553 total passing attempts in 2010, over 15% of them (86) were more than 20 yards, 5th most in the league.

The good news is that even with the low completion percentage on those deep passes, Flacco only had five of them picked off, the 9th lowest percentage in the NFL. The numbers can be deceiving, as most Ravens fans think the team needs to go deep more often, especially now that the Ravens have drafted WR Torrey Smith, whose speed is built for the deep ball. The best news is that Flacco'sdeep throws completion percentage should skyrocket now that he has someone who can finally run underneath those long passes in 2011.

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