Thursday, September 24, 2009

Flacco For MVP

Why not?

Since ZipCode (rightly) calls me a curmudgeon when I dampen his enthusiasm for the kid, I may as well be a little premature here as well. With apologies to Drew Brees, no player on an undefeated team has done more to deliver wins to his team. Not Adrian Peterson, Mark Sanchez, or Peyton Manning. Not Elvis Dumervil, Matt Ryan, Frank Gore or Peyton's brother either. None of them.

Joe Flacco is rightly the two week MVP, and at his current trajectory he is growing into the best player in the league.


Okay, I'll rain on this parade right away. No, I don't think Flacco will continue at this pace and no, I don't think he will continue to improve this rapidly. While possible, it is pretty doggone unlikely. A plateau reserved for players named things like Brady and Brees.

Even so, Flacco's performance to this point has been nothing short of remarkable. Right now, Flacco is 7th in the NFL in passer rate, tied for 2nd in TDs and 12th in passing yardage. This with an uninspiring receiving corps headlined by Derrick Mason. Flacco has completed seven passes to three players, including Kelley Washington who was last seen washing out of Cincinnati and New England, while completing another 23 passes to four others. His best receiver so far is probably Mark Clayton who is on pace for about 50 catches and 800 yards. Flacco has been so good at spreading the ball though, that there are three other receivers on the team who are also on pace for very similar numbers. This on a team who has a group of receivers who no one would confuse with other groups like Fitzgerald/Boldin, Harrison/Wayne or Johnson/Houshmanzedeh.

What's more remarkable is that Flacco is producing like this for a Raven team that has displayed uncharacteristically average defense to this point. Last year the team mostly won in spite of Flacco and because of the defense. This year (so far) it is very nearly the opposite. Put the 2008 Flacco on this team and it is looking at an 0-2 start.

With other contenders in the AFC each looking very vulnerable, and with the reasonable expectation that the Raven defense will more than hold its own, it is very reasonable to think that as of right now, September 24, Baltimore has the inside track on the 2010 Super Bowl.

and god will ZipCode and Chris be insufferable then


  1. LOL...

    I wrote an article for (which as of my writing this, hasn't yet posted) going into detail about the offense, and more specifically, what Flacco's doing in it. I called it "an efficient offense," which it very much seems to be.

    The article focuses primarily on the fact that the offense is completely balanced, and is putting up frankly shocking numbers while completely lacking an explosive player. Not one play more than the 31 yard TD strike late in the 4th quarter against the Chiefs. Like you said, none of these receivers could strike you as "good," much less "great."

    While I was at the Chiefs game, at half time I was in the tunnels with my dad and one of the guys that sits by us. We talked about our receivers and I said the big problem we have is that we've got a bunch of possession receivers. Guys that are really good at getting ten yards down-field, cutting out or in or back or whatever, finding a hole in the zone, catching the ball and getting a first down.

    But we don't have a single play-maker. No one that can get deep. No one that's bigger and tougher and can out-muscle a DB (or, god forbid, a LB) in the end zone on a jump ball. No one that can catch a ball on the fly and put a sick move on someone and break it the distance. Any play longer than 40 yards from this passing game will be due to flukes, same as last year. A broken coverage here, a DB that trips over his feet there.

    But so far that just hasn't been an issue. Flacco's great at putting the ball where it needs to be. He plays within himself, and Cam has completely built the offense to focus on all these guys' strengths and hide all of their weaknesses. I think there have been maybe two or three deep routes run where it wasn't a decoy. Once in the red zone we hand it off to McGahee or pass to Heap or dump off to try to get a guy to make a play.

    The offense isn't gonna finish #2 in the NFL. I have no illusions about that. But top ten? Yeah, almost definitely (barring a Flacco injury). Possibly even top five. It's nice to see the offense finally able to lend a supportive hand when the defense has an off-day...

  2. It's been fun, and it was very nice to steamroll an inferior (divisional) opponent today. But I'm interested to see how the Ravens offense gets Belichicked next week.

    There are plenty of models to look at for an offense like this. I pointed out to Chris earlier, the 2004 Chargers:
    These Ravens don't have the explosive talents at TE and RB that those Chargers had: but the Ravens 3-headed RB can match or exceed LDT's totals from that year (as they did last season), and Heap could get 75%+ of Gates' numbers that year. The Ravens top 2 WRs are better.

    Other good comps are the 2004 and 2006 Patriots.
    In 2006 Brady threw 24 TDs but no receiver got more than 4; and they had RBBC. The 2004 offense was more potent; Corey Dillon had a great season. But his numbers should easily be duplicated/exceed by the Ravens committee couldn't duplicate; and the Pats top receiver that season had only 875 yards.

    It's not uncommon for teams to win like this. A key component is a D that keeps getting the ball back, giving more opportunities to the offense.


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