I'm generally a Joe Flacco apologist.
I think his $120.6 million contract was warranted after a stellar postseason capped off with a Super Bowl. I think he's proven time and again that he can win big games, especially late in the season.
For the most part he's been a solid quarterback that limits his mistakes and can manage an offense.
All that said, this has not been one of Flacco's better seasons.
OK, his running game stinks. We don't need to rehash the issues keeping the running game from going. Sure, he's been without Dennis Pitta and lost Anquan Boldin during the offseason. I get it. He's not working with the weapons he's grown accustomed to.
But this is the NFL. The best make do and move forward. Flacco hasn't been able to do that in 2013.
Flacco's quarterback rating ranks 29th in the league, which checks in behind Christian Ponder and E.J. Manuel. He's already thrown a career-worst 14 interceptions in one season. He's completed 59.1 percent of his passes and tossed 14 touchdowns.
His team is 5-6 and his team has scored more than 20 points just three times.
And he has a problem with John Harbaugh and Jim Caldwell varying the offensive game plan?
Joe Flacco on Wildcat: "I don't like that stuff. I think it makes you look like a high school offense. That's just my opinion."— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 26, 2013
Here's the thing. If Flacco and the offense were able to score points like the upper half of the NFL, then maybe the Ravens wouldn't have resorted to the Wildcat. It's not like Harbaugh and the Ravens have ever been fond of the gimmick. But if a quarterback is the leader of your team — or at least the offense — then it's his responsibility to direct a team down the field.
We've seen plenty of quarterbacks do so when changes affect their teams. Players get injured and offenses don't skip a beat. Make any excuse you want about Flacco and the offense. But if it's not producing, something must change. And that change doesn't have to be a direction in philosophy on a permanent basis. It can be week-to-week changes, as needed, just as long as the coaches are doing enough to put their team in the best position to win games.
Point is, Flacco has no ground to stand on with his criticism. The Ravens are in Week 13 of the season. if the base offense isn't working now, when will it begin working? It's time to add some wrinkles in. It's time to dig deep in the playbook. It's time to experiment and see what else the offense can put forward. It's on the coaching staff to get creative and figure out ways to generate yards and points.
The only way Flacco will be able to drive his belief home, that the Ravens don't need to use the Wildcat, is by playing better on Sundays (and this Thursday). He's not the only one to blame for the offense's inefficiencies. But he hasn't done enough this season to prevent the coaches from doing what they did against the Jets.
This isn't about his offseason contract. He deserved every dime at that time. It's about now and how his play is trending of late. That hasn't been ticking upward all year.
Flacco should take this as a wake-up call. This is a game played at a high level where decisions and attitudes can change in a heartbeat.
Before he opens his mouth in disapproval, he should make sure he's doing enough on the field to back it up.