Baltimore Ravens vs Houston Texans: What We Learned

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Dec 21, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) walks off the field after throwing an interception during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Flacco is an amplifier

Analysts have long struggled to define Joe Flacco. He is almost certainly the most divisive quarterback currently in the league (Tim Tebow, thankfully, is long gone), which is strange for a guy who has had such success. The reason for the conflicting opinions was apparent yesterday, as the former Super Bowl MVP put up arguably the worst game of his career. He usually has one or two of those meltdown games a year.

While many analysts are probably left with more questions than answers, yesterday’s game finally provided me the perfect analogy to describe Flacco. He is an amplifier. When his teammates are playing well, he elevates them even further. When they are struggling, he brings the offense down even further. He is the Rajon Rondo of the NFL, a guy who is only as good as the teammates around him. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Obviously, all quarterbacks have a tendency to play better with solid teammates, but Flacco takes that to the next level. He is incapable of carrying a struggling offense, and he almost never has inexplicably bad games when well-protected.

The Ravens have probably been aware of this for years, but Flacco continues to be surrounded by mediocre talent. Despite their strong offensive line, the Ravens are extremely weak at the skill positions. Justin Forsett was a lucky get, but he has worn down to the point of mediocrity, while the receiving corps looks slow. In the face of overwhelming pressure yesterday, how could Flacco be expected to play well?

Of course, within his first ten passes, Flacco seemed to fold. He was rattled beyond belief and incapable of delivering an accurate throw to any part of the field. That all had roots in his teammates’ play, though, when his receivers didn’t get open and his linemen didn’t block. In sum, Flacco deserves a lot of blame for what happened yesterday, but not all of it, because when Flacco has a bad game, he is just amplifying the play of his teammates.