The knock on the Baltimore Ravens over the past four years has been that the offense, and namely Joe Flacco, just couldn't rise to the occasion to get the team over the hump. Four years, four playoff appearances, two AFC Championship Games, yet no Super Bowl appearances. Close, but no cigar.
Get ready for things to change, and quick. Don't look now, but Flaco is the highest rated quarterback in the AFC in terms of passing yardage. Unless another QB in the conference has a monster game, expect to see him remain at that stop once week four of the 2012 NFL regular season is over.
Flacco has thrown for 1,269 yards, averaging over 317 yards a game in 2012, which extrapolates to just over 5,000 yards for the entire 16-game season. This would be close to 1,500 yards more than Joe best season in his four-year career. While it's difficult to project and predict what the remaining twelve games will hold for Flacco and the Ravens, what we've seen so far is a huge improvement over what we have witnessed in the past.
The offense has more weapons at the receiving position, bot in the short, long and possession game. The running game is still just as good, as Ray Rice is averaging five yards a carry and is on pace for a 1,200 yard season. WR Torrey Smith has emerged as a legitimate #1 receiver, also on pace for a 1,200 yard receiving season and a dozen TD receptions.
However, it's Flacco that has to impress you the most so far in 2012. His arm strength has never been questioned. However, his soft touch and ability to pinpoint receivers who seemingly appear to be covered, is the difference between the "old" and "new" 'Joe Cool.' His leadership of the team is obvious and the commitment to throw the ball in this new look offense is based on the team's confidence in him being able to get the job done.
History has showed that it takes 3-5 years for an NFL quarterback to mature and see what you have in a signal-caller. Flacco is doing everything to erase the doubts, silence the critics and back up his boast that he deserves to be mentioned among the game's best. Continuing the current path that he has taken and Joe Flacco will have earned the respect and accolades he deserves, and perhaps a Lombardi Trophy along the way.