PFF: Only way is up for Flacco

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

How well does quarterback Joe Flacco throw to the various positions on the field?

June is "QB Month" for ProFootballFocus' Steve Palazzolo, and if dissecting quarterback-play is a hot craps table, Palazzolo is on a roll right now. We're halfway through June and Pal' has covered 15 different situations. I checked out Joe Flacco' s assessment--pass distribution--and my face lit up like a Christmas tree because the Ravens quarterback will do more than redeem himself in 2014.

The premise of this piece is simple: How well did a quarterback throw to the various positions on the field? ... We [PFF] then break it down to show which quarterbacks relied heavily on their tight ends, including their preferred alignments, and which quarterbacks threw to their running backs, including their alignments.

The greater news

Flacco is highly accurate when going to his tight ends. Flacco registered a 69.2 percent completion rate when throwing to tight ends starting from the slot. Although five of 78 attempts were intercepted, we're giving him the benefit of the doubt (saying that they should have been caught). Eight passes were dropped, maybe tipped, etc.

When throwing to "inline" tight ends, No. 5 completed 68.9 percent of his passes (31/45) for 307 yards. This is beautiful--considering that he surpassed Matt Schaub and Case Keenum on this list.

Texans QBs, Case Keenum (20.0%) and Matt Schaub (16.1%), ranked first and third, respectively, in percentage of passes to inline tight ends — perhaps a sign of things to come for Joe Flacco with Gary Kubiak coming to Baltimore as offensive coordinator. Flacco threw only 7.7% of his attempts to inline tight ends in 2013.

In other words, Flacco has two go-to targets in Dennis Pitta back and Owen Daniels. Ravens fans may not want to shed their quarterback's miserable 2013 performance immediately. He rolled out 10.5 percent of the time to scan the field for a tight end, throwing five touchdowns and six interceptions--not all of those picks were his fault--11 passes slipped out of their hands.

The great news

With time comes chemistry; with chemistry, success, and with success, Super Bowl championships.

Flacco recorded 6.9 yards-per-attempt when targeting his wide receivers. Barring setbacks, this number should jump up this season. Last year, whether they started from the slot, lined up outside or by alignment, the unit struggled collectively.

Torrey Smith dropped seven passes in 2013, registering the highest drop percentage (5.1) out of the group. Marlon Brown (3.6%) and Jacoby Jones (1.5%) didn't have as many receptions. Steve Smith will strengthen the core and we'll hope to see these numbers again.

What I like about the Ravens schedule is that the there is little-to-no room for excuse. During the homestretch of the season (the coldest months), Baltimore plays in warm-weathered states (i.e. Miami, Houston). Expect huge production from the offense.

The good news

Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce combined for 425 yards receiving on 78 receptions in 2013. According to PFF, Flacco and Eli Manning were the worst in the League when throwing to a running back.

Joe Flacco and Eli Manning ranked at the bottom of the list at -6.4 and -6.8, respectively, while tying for the league lead with three interceptions each on passes to running backs.

Perturbed? Don't be. In 2013 neither Matt Schaub or Keenum threw an interception when targeting a running back. Schaub actually matched Flacco's lone touchdown completion to a player leaking out of the backfield. (Arian Foster.) The question now to ask is will Kubiak deploy Rice the same way he used Foster? Will James Casey's role be fulfilled by Kyle Juszczyk? Juice has quite the ladder to climb. Nonetheless, be excited.

The bottom line is loud and clear.

Under Kubiak's new system--after Flacco sharpens his fundamentals this offseason and builds a strong rapport with his receivers--the only way to go is up.

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