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PFF: Flacco 2nd worst QB in the league, Cutler a lot better, Trestman to blame?

The grading agency is tough on Flacco and Trestman, but I think they are ignoring many variables.

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Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

When Marc Trestman came to town as the new Offensive Coordinator, he brought a lot of baggage with him. Many discontented Bears fans were quick to let us know about what lay ahead. We saw lots of criticism of Trestman on various message boards, and it left me a little weary for sure.

However, I've actually been pretty impressed with Trestman. His play calling has been pretty solid, his offense has been putting up points, and he has somehow been able to make do with no real receivers.

However, it seems that being the 8th highest-scoring team in the league isn't good enough for Pro Football Focus.

The site starts by picking apart the Ravens' lack of a deep passing attack, while blatantly ignoring the fact that the Ravens haven't really had a receiver to stretch the field this season. It's also kind of hard to throw the ball deep when your offensive line is struggling (see the Hurst era), but don't tell PFF that.

Here is the site's argument against Flacco and his coordinator.

"Flacco’s average depth of target has seen a similar drop from pre- to post-Trestman, dropping from 9.0 a year ago to just 7.4 this year. The problem isn’t necessarily the very deep shots down the field, since Flacco takes a deep shot (20-plus air yards) at roughly the same rate this year as opposed to last, but rather how the Ravens are stretching the field by working the intermediate routes. Last season Baltimore attempted a pass 10 or more yards down field on 32.3 percent of their attempts. This season that figure is down to 27.3 percent.

While the route profile for Flacco actually looks pretty similar from 2014 to 2015, it does appear that the passing offense is simply looking more toothless this year. Flacco, who was our 16th-graded quarterback a year ago is now 36th, ranked below every quarterback in football other than Matthew Stafford, who was benched in Detroit’s loss to Arizona this week for Dan Orlovsky.

Cutler, by contrast, is sitting in the 16th spot in our grades that used to be occupied by Flacco, after having been 31st when running Trestman’s offense a year ago. He currently has a positive grade after posting his best game grade since Week 6 of 2014 in Sunday’s come-from-behind win over the Chiefs, during which he made some spectacular throws and didn’t throw any interceptions." - Sam Monson, PFF

The agency says that Jay Cutler also suffered a very similar drop in deep throws during Year 2 of Chicago's Trestman Era, and has likened it to Joe Flacco's drop in deep throws. That actually holds up when you look at the stats, but choose to omit the context.

In reality, the two situations couldn't have been more different. Chicago chose to roll out a more conservative offense for the mistake-prone Cutler, who had thrown 12 picks in 11 games that previous season. The offense was intended to limit those mistakes, and also perhaps to mask Chicago's 19th best in the league offensive line. Unfortunately for Chicago (and Cutler), this West Coast-oriented offense didn't work for Cutler, who was unable to make the quick precise throws that such a scheme calls for. He is a true gunslinger, and Trestman's new scheme took away his best ability.

As for Baltimore, the West Coast scheme isn't foreign to Flacco. Gary Kubiak's scheme was very similar, and unlike Cutler, Flacco is very disciplined and can make tight throws. Kubiak's offense worked in Baltimore, and thus far, Trestman hasn't had to reinvent the well-engineered wheel that Kubiak left for him.

While some of Trestman's play calling has left a lot to be desired, like this weekend's PA pass on 3rd and goal from the five to win the game, it doesn't bother me too much. Trestman's offense has consistently been putting lots of points on the board, and is keeping the Ravens in games that the defense has blown.

The Ravens' 2015-16 offense isn't one for the record books, but they are getting the job done. It's the most unlikely group of guys, and very much deprived of star power, but they are still doing a fantastic job. I'm pretty damn proud of them.

In the meantime, lay off of Trestman please. Considering the recent streak of Baltimore coordinators leaving for greener pastures and better jobs, he'll probably be gone next year anway. In the meantime, let's worry about another coordinator who has managed to stick around for a few years.