12

October

Which Joe Flacco will the Packers see in Baltimore?

Joe Flacco has been pretty average for most of his career, except for the 2012 playoffs.

Joe Flacco has been pretty average for most of his career, except for the 2012 playoffs.

Prior to the 2012 season, Joe Flacco rejected a contract worth about $14 million per year. At the time, that contract seemed generous for a quarterback who had won five playoff games yet had never thrown more than 25 touchdowns in a season through four years.

But Flacco thought otherwise, so played out the final year of his rookie contract.

After a 9-2 start last year, the Ravens lost four of their last five regular-season games and backed into the playoffs at 10-6.

Then, Flacco put together a four-game postseason stretch in which he led the Ravens to a Super Bowl title, throwing for 11 touchdowns without an interception, while posting a passer rating of at least 106.2 in each game.

Following Super Bowl XLVII, Flacco cashed in with a six-year contract worth around $20 million annually. He may be only slightly more (or not) than an average NFL quarterback, but he took a gamble—and it paid off.

This week, Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers may be forced to put all his chips on the table to generate a pass rush against Flacco and the Ravens, as Green Bay will be without Clay Matthews for about a month.

Last season, with Matthews and Nick Perry out of the lineup nursing injuries, the Packers were forced to go with Erik Walden and Dezman Moses as their outside linebackers. This year, they’ll start Perry and Mike Neal in Matthews’ absence.

Matthews is unquestionably Green Bay’s most valuable player on the defensive side of the ball, and thanks to a hamstring injury that kept safety Morgan Burnett out of the lineup for the first three games, the Packers have yet to play a full game with their top two defensive players.

But even if the secondary is taking form with Burnett back, Flacco figures to have plenty of time to throw the ball behind a strengthened offensive line and against a Matthews-less Packers defensive front. Baltimore traded for Jaguars left tackle Eugene Monroe a couple weeks ago, and he’s expected to make his first start this weekend on Flacco’s blindside.

Flacco is what he is. As far as NFL quarterbacks go, Flacco’s a pretty Average Joe.

Sure, his skill set is enough to worry a defensive coordinator. Flacco is not a cerebral, ultra-accurate passer, but Packers running back Eddie Lacy isn’t exactly a burner, either. That doesn’t stop Lacy from gashing a defense for (almost) 100 yards, nor does it prevent Flacco’s big arm from stretching the field.

This year, in order to beat good teams, Flacco will likely have to be even better than he was in Baltimore’s 2012 postseason run, as the Ravens are without receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Dennis Pitta—two key pieces in last year’s playoffs.

Right now, wide receiver Torrey Smith is clearly Baltimore’s top target in the passing game. Through five games, Smith is leading the AFC with 556 receiving yards, while averaging more than 20 yards per catch.

In two home games this year, the Ravens have outscored the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans by a combined score of 44-15.

Flacco has been much more efficient in Baltimore’s two home wins. He’s completed 66 percent of his passes for 382 yards and a touchdown, but in three road games, Flacco has completed just 54 percent of his passes, including a whopping eight interceptions.

Last week, following a five-interception performance against the Buffalo Bills, Flacco went 19-of-32 for 269 yards in a win over the Miami Dolphins. He did, however, throw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

The Packers will certainly try to force Flacco into some tough situations, but obviously, that’ll be a tough task without Matthews in the lineup. Through the first quarter of the season, the Green Bay run defense sits in the top five of the NFL. Shutting down Ray Rice and the Ravens running game will be at the top of the Packers’ to-do list, defensively, and if they’re able to do that, the game will rest on Flacco’s shoulders.

The last time the Packers played the Ravens, Flacco threw for just 137 yards and three interceptions. The Packers won the game 27-14 at Lambeau Field; it’s safe to say that another 137-yard performance won’t be enough to get past the Packers in Baltimore.

It will be interesting to see how Capers tries to dial up pressure Sunday. But whether the Packers are able to pressure the quarterback or not, much of the game will be determined by which Flacco shows up.

The passing game—specifically the quarterback position—may be the biggest positional gap in Sunday’s game. The Packers have Rodgers and a plethora of talented targets, while the Ravens have Flacco, Smith and not much else.

Dating back to last season, the Packers have dropped four consecutive games on the road. Breaking that streak Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champions without their top defensive playmaker would certainly build some confidence for the 2-2 Packers.

But in order to snap their losing streak and start a winning streak, the Packers will need to make Flacco look more like Flacco, instead of whomever stole his No. 5 and played the 2012 postseason in a Ravens uniform.

——————

Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

——————

22 Responses to “Which Joe Flacco will the Packers see in Baltimore?”

  1. Bart Vanden Plas says:

    This is the game where the defensive secondary needs to step up even more than they did in the Lions game. If they take the next step up, the Packers win this easily. If not, it will be a shoot out and the Packers might lose in the 4th.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

    • Stroh says:

      With the way these defenses are playing I would say its much more likely to be a defensive struggle. Ravens offense right now isn’t much better to me than Detroit’s was w/o Megatron. I think the Packers hold Balt to less than 20 pts and Baltimore holds the Pack to less than 28. 27-17 Packers win.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  2. Deuce says:

    Even with the Packers Defensive shortcomings, the Pack have enough defense to shut Ray Rice down, as they’ve done to all running backs this season, and make Flacco put the game on his Arm and in a Shootout with Mr. Rodgers. The biggest task will be taken on by the offense and actually putting touchdowns on the board instead of field goals, if not it may come down to a nail bitter and thus far, We all know Green Bay hasn’t done well in those two games this season.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  3. James David says:

    The problem is the pass defense and red zone scoring offense. Green Bay needs four touchdowns and two field goals not four field goals and 2 touchdowns.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

    • Stroh says:

      I think 2 TD’s and 4 FG will be more than enough to beat Balt. I’m not sure Balt will be able to score 20 pts on the Packers. But yeah, we need to get a little better in red zone efficiency. During McCarthy’s tenure the Packers are #1 in the NFL, IIRC in red zone efficiency. Guess that McCarthy guy is a pretty damn good playcaller after all!

      This is the first time they’ve struggled w/ it. I’m pretty sure they’ll get in figured out pretty quickly tho.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  4. Dobber says:

    On another note: Browns sign WR Charles Johnson off Packer practice squad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Stroh says:

      I read that earlier. Too bad! I was really looking forward to seeing what he could do w/ a full offseason in GB. That kids got a ton of physical talent. Glad he went to and AFC team and I can keep an eye on him and root for him.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    • Outis says:

      So, after TT cuts Jeremy Ross and places Robert Francois on IR, he fills their roster spots with RB Michael Hill, an UDFA out of Missouri Western, and CB James Nixon, an UDFA out of Univ. California of Pennsylvania. I heard that the Bills wanted to sign Nixon off of the practice squad but TT wanted to keep him. Instead, we lose Johnson. Let’s see, we now have 7 CBs on the roster. I guess that tells you how good of a prospect Johnson was. Turns out he was a wasted draft pick.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  5. Archie says:

    The home/away stats strongly favor the Ravens yet the oddsmakers have the Pck a 3 point favorite. When Vegas goes against the trends, they are usually right. Having said that, hard for this Packer fan to see GB winning this game with Matthews and Jones sidelined and hayward still out. Not to mention the Ravens are adding Monroe at OT. But we shall see, that’s why Sundays are a blast! My money will stay on sideline this week. Next week we will be home and Jones and Hayward should be ready to go. That sounds like a better opportunity depending on the spread.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    • Stroh says:

      Perry showed what he can do rushing from Matthews spot last week and Neal had a very good game too. Eugene Monroe isn’t a quality LT, good at best and that being kinda kind to him. Average at best… I see the Packers stuffing Rice and the run game and Sheilds putting the clamps on Torrey Smith. Balt is going to have difficulty moving the ball on the Packers D.

      On offense, Lacy might struggle running the balls some, but I think he’ll do just enough to be productive. 19 for 75 and a TD. Packers will have to block Suggs and Dumervil but they can give them a little help. Rodgers can torch the Balt secondary which is awful and has only one good player in Smtith at CB. Rodgers throws for 290 and 3 TD’s.

      This Packer fan sees a 27-17 Packer W!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

      • Stroh says:

        Make that 2 Rodgers TD passes, since I have Lacy running for one too. Just so it adds up correctly.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

      • Marques Eversoll Marques Eversoll says:

        Disagree about Eugene Monroe. In 2011, PFF had him as the 6th-best OT in football, among 76 tackles. In 2012, he was No. 15 among 80 OTs. He’s a good player.

        And I’m curious as to what makes you think Jimmy Smith is the one good player in the Baltimore secondary. Lardarius Webb is their top CB, and Smith has been largely inconsistent since coming into the league.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

        • Stroh says:

          S Monroe was #15 among LT. There’s only 32 “starting” LT in the NFL, the rest are backups. That hardly makes him better than average.

          Found this quote interesting…

          “The Ravens will start Eugene Monroe — whom they acquired last week in a trade — at left tackle, but he hadn’t been playing well with the Jacksonville Jaguars, so that’s not necessarily an immediate upgrade.”

          Hope that clears things up for you.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

        • Stroh says:

          In another article they said Smith was the only player in the Balt secondary that was playing very well. Nothing mentioned about Webb, but that probably has a lot to do w/ this.

          http://www.baltimoreravens.com/videos/videos/Lardarius-Webb-On-His-Way-Back/2fbc8992-0e1b-4d3d-8f60-1de18daafb57

          I found it interesting that it was his 2nd ACL in 3 years. Apparently he’s not the #1 CB now. Maybe last year, pre-injury.

          That great FA pickup Michael Huff hasn’t done anything either. He’s on the Bench behind a rookie, sure wish we could have signed him to our bench.

          Bottom line is the Balt pass Defense hasn’t played very well all year. Tannehill put 300 yds and an 86 QB rating on them and Manning LIT THEM UP!

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

        • Stroh says:

          BTW if he was any good, the Jags wouldn’t have drafted a LT with the 2nd overall pick in this years draft. They could have looked at another position (of which they have ALOT of needs) or at the very least moved him to RT and had a pretty damn good set of bookend OT’s. Instead they “gave” him away for a couple of mid to late round picks. Why do you think that is?

          Kinda makes you go Hmmm, doesn’t it?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

          • Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

            “They could have looked at another position”….

            Isn’t that what the Packers do…draft the best player available regardless of position….”Kinda makes you go Hmmm, doesn’t it?”

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

            • Stroh says:

              That’s why I said “or at least move him to RB and had bookend OT”

              Guess you didn’t bother to read that part?! Hmmmm…

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

            • Stroh says:

              Either way you don’t give away good starting OT’s do you? Hmmm.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  6. Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

    “while the Ravens have Flacco, Smith and not much else.”

    So is this to be taken as being less/equal than the Lions without Calvin Johnson?….SMH.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  7. Since '61 says:

    The Packers have played 2 road games and may have won both games if not for some killer turnovers. If the Packers play as well as they did in their previous road games and eliminate turnovers they should be able to defeat the Ravens. Also limit penalties. I like the Pack 27-16. Thanks, Since ’61

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

    • Stroh says:

      How was the trip to Amsterdam? Did you ask the hotel to record the Packer game for you, like I mentioned?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

      • Since '61 says:

        Stroh – thanks for asking.The trip to Amsterdam went well. I was there until Tuesday and then on to London. I was traveling for business and to meet with customers and partners. The hotel did record the game but they had the wrong time and only recorded the second half. Since, I returned home on Friday evening I have seen the entire Lions game tape and I hope the Packers will maintain their strong play against the Ravens this week. No turnovers by the Packers are a key for this game. Thanks, Since ’61

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2