Joe Flacco’s Interceptions Should Concern Baltimore Ravens


Oct 26, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) reacts as he walks off the field after the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Flacco has experienced a big comeback this season by most accounts, being on track for career highs in pretty much every major passing category. One area of concern, though, is Flacco’s seven interceptions, four of which have come in the past two weeks. Statistically, those are a concern. Looking at the film, I’m worried.

Two interceptions concern me in particular.

Flacco’s second interception against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7 saw him loft a ball into the endzone intended for Owen Daniels. This was one of those “give the guy a chance to make a play” throws that Flacco has become famous for, for better or for worse.

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  • What Flacco did not account for, though, was Robert Alford being in deep zone coverage. The Falcons disguised the coverage well, with Alford looking pre-snap to be in man coverage on Steve Smith. Instead, the safety moved down to cover Smith on an inside route, allowing Alford to play a deep half of the field. Flacco never saw him, lofting up an easily defended ball. With plenty of time to adjust, Alford easily made the interception.

    Flacco’s first interception against Cincinnati was similar. Torrey Smith ran a deep comeback, cutting about five yards behind the linebackers, all of whom were in zone.

    There was nothing fancy in the Bengals coverage, with two deep safeties and a linebacker forming a Tampa-Two defense and four linebackers forming shell coverage across the field. Flacco either didn’t see Bengals linebacker Emmanuel Lamur, or he thought he could force the throw in anyway. Either way, Flacco stared down Torrey, Lamur broke on the ball and picked off the pass. Honestly, Lamur barely had to move to make the play.

    That added up to two interceptions in which Flacco was fooled by zone coverage in the past two games, which has been a relatively common theme throughout his career. Flacco is much worse against zone coverage than man, especially Cover 2 looks. And when the defense disguises their zones even a little bit, Flacco can be fooled.

    The sample size is small here. After all, Flacco has only thrown seven interceptions this season, but his failure to recognize certain coverages is concerning. That’s something Flacco and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak will need to focus on in coming weeks, or Flacco could continue to be turnover prone.