Ravens need more from Joe Flacco to become Super Bowl contenders

Baltimore Ravens

There’s been a lot written about how Joe Flacco has raised his game this season, but the Ravens need more from him if they want to win another Super Bowl.

Joe Flacco deserves credit for responding to the Ravens’ decision to draft Lamar Jackson in the appropriate manner. He’s definitely elevated his play in response to the competition. Unfortunately, he hasn’t raised his game enough to really make Baltimore a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Sunday’s loss to the Saints was a perfect example of why the Ravens’ chances of making a deep postseason run are pretty remote. Their offense simply can’t score enough points to match the elite offenses they’ll need to beat to advance deep into the playoffs.

That’s exactly why they lost to New Orleans. Drew Brees and the Saints offense didn’t play great against the Ravens’ talented defense, but even in a mediocre game they managed to put up 24 points. In today’s NFL, that’s a pretty pedestrian output for a high-powered offense. Teams like the Rams, Chiefs and Patriots are regularly putting up 30 or more. Other than a Week 1 blowout victory over the Bills, Baltimore’s offense hasn’t scored more than 27 points in a single game.

Some of the blame for that goes to the team’s inconsistent ground game. They rank 24th in the NFL with an average of 96 yards rushing per contest. With all due respect to Alex Collins and company, there’s no one in the Baltimore backfield that really scares opposing defensive coordinators.

The lion’s share of the responsibility goes to Flacco’s inability to create explosive plays in the passing game. As we said in the open, he is doing a better job of pushing the ball down the field this season. His yards per completion average is up two yards compared to last year. It still isn’t good enough to keep up with the elite quarterbacks he’ll need to out gun in the playoffs.

The challenge for the Ravens’ front office is that Flacco is playing well enough to get the team solidly into the Playoffs, but not good enough to win a Super Bowl. The team’s lack of offensive firepower simply puts too much pressure on their talented defense to shut down opponents. In today’s NFL, elite offenses score points against elite defenses.

The only real alternative for John Harbaugh and Co. is to turn the offense over to Lamar Jackson. They’ve involved him in gadget plays all season, but it’s clear they don’t believe he’s ready to lead their attack week in and week out. That means the organization will be forced to hope Flacco can get hot at the right time.

Next: 5 bold predictions for the Ravens in 2018

It’s not inconceivable to believe Flacco can find some magic once the postseason arrives, but you shouldn’t expect to see that happen. Unless he takes a serious leap, the Ravens look like a team who will make the Playoffs, but will experience an early exit.

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