Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A quarterback regressing?

Joe Flacco's statistics through two games give some cause for concern:
48% completion rate, 5.2 YPA, 1 TD and 5 INTs
Now, granted it's only two games, and they were on the road, in a six day period and against the #1 and #6 passing defenses from last year. And while I'm far from panicking over whether Flacco is in serious regression, or if it was just a bad streak in a tough situation, there are some signs of true concern that deserve some attention.

The biggest sign has been the media's favorite tag-line of the week. Flacco's mechanics were terrible against Cincinnati, and he was consistently throwing off his back foot. Part of this may have been due to the fact that despite not allowing a sack, the Ravens OL really had a poor game. Flacco was constantly under pressure and forced to either throw on the run, or simply get a throw off with someone in his face or in the process of tackling him.

But there's at least one more concerning possibility. One that I thought about at the time, but didn't know enough about to speak up on. I still don't "know" a ton, but what's a good conspiracy theory if it goes untold?

Last year, the Ravens lost Hue Jackson - Flacco's quarterback coach - to the Raiders. Jackson is an accomplished and respected coach that was credited for helping Flacco develop quickly into a solid QB. There was hope he could replace Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator if he were given another shot as a head coach, before getting the opportunity in Oakland. He was later replaced by the much maligned as a head coach, but seemingly well respected quarterback coach, Jim Zorn. The hire was lauded as an excellent replacement for Jackson to continue Flacco's development.

The concern I have, and had at the time of hire, was that Zorn was never a quarterback known for his mechanics. He was more of an instinctual player. My concern is, how does a guy that plays on guts teach good form?

I don't have a lot other than that. There's no proof. In fact, Zorn coached Matt Hasselbeck from '01 to '07. The difference between his stats in that time vs. the rest of his career are striking:
With Zorn: 61% comp rate, 7.1 YPA, 4.5% TD rate, 2.7% INT rate
Without: 58% comp rate, 6.1 YPA, 3.4% TD rate, 4.0% INT rate

But I'm still not sure about it. And after two games, while it's too small a sample to say the jury's out, I've hardly had my mind put at ease.


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