USA TODAY Sports
Now that the concrete block encasing the feet of Ravens QB Joe Flacco has been removed, it is time for the fifth-year starter to step up and prove he was not the reason for the team's lethargic offensive performances lately.
You finally got what you wanted. The firing of Cam Cameron may be the move you secretly wanted to see for a few years now, but at least he was your security blanket. Whenever the team did poorly and you had a bad game, the criticism was shared by Cam, not solely by you. Now that he's gone, you will have to prove that he was the problem, not the execution on the field.
Early in your career, they said you needed better receivers. They traded for Anquan Boldin, drafted Torrey Smith and brought in your BFF now, Dennis Pitta. Ray Rice came into the league with you and has been your insurance policy, certainly making you look good on that 4th-and-29 pass a few weeks ago in San Diego.
Yeah, your offensive line is not that good and Michael Oher's protection of your blind side like his book & movie is titled, is an obvious joke. However, you need to put it all on your shoulders now and take the reins of this team. No more excuses, no more sitting by yourself on the sidelines, hiding in the handset of the telephone. Watch how this weekend's opponent, Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning, talks non-stop with his receivers and linemen on the sidelines, giving them encouragement and tips on what to look for.
Take you time with better pre-snap reads and when you see seven guys up at the line of scrimmage with no one behind you in the backfield, audible or even call call a timeout. Don't just go with the original play and get creamed. When you drop back to pass, count to three in your head and then either run or throw the ball away. When you do decide to run, keep your head up and look for an open receiver.
Hold onto the ball with two hands and don't just cringe and fold up, waiting for the defense to take you down. Notice how often you get stripped of the ball in the pocket? Yeah, we all see it coming and you should too, so hold on tightly, Joe.
You can do this. You saw how well you played in last year's AFC Championship Game and deserved better then. You have one of the strongest arms in the league, but you need to get your head to the same level of your arm. Right now it's obviously not. When you get that deer-in-the-headlights look in your eyes, us fans see it on TV and know all is lost at that point.
Keep your chin up and do not lose confidence. Look how well you did in the first 26 minutes of last week's game. You were on your way to AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors but you now need to convince Jim Caldwell to let you keep doing what is working. Watch how Tom Brady is playing just as aggressively up by three scores in the fourth quarter as he is at the beginning of the game. No more of that "prevent offense" that has cost this team games.
You know as well as us fans that we should have won the past two games. You had a lead but could not get it done in the second half nor in crunch time. Stop with the short passes on third and six and also stop with the bombs on third and one.
As Tom Hanks said at the end of 'Saving Private Ryan' as he lay dying along with so many of his squad after saving Matt Damon's character, "Earn this."
You can do it, Joe. It's your offense now. Be the man. Git 'er done. Prove me wrong.
Your biggest critic and biggest fan (turn me from the former to the latter, please?)