It’s hard not to like what Joe Flacco has accomplished in his first three seasons as a starting quarterback in the NFL. One of the surprise first round picks of the 2008 NFL Draft, Flacco has started all 48 of the Ravens regular season games the past three years, as well as all seven of Baltimore’s postseason games. He’s 32-16 in the regular season, and a respectable 4-3 come playoff time, with at least one win in each year’s tournament. There’s just one problem though. Flacco is just 2-4 against the Steelers in the regular season, with both wins coming in games that Ben Roethlisberger was not involved. The Ravens have also lost their last two postseason tilts against the rival Steelers, most recently in this past year’s Divisional Round when multiple turnovers by Flacco in the second half propelled Pittsburgh to a shocking home win after trailing by 14 points at intermission. Still, many quarterbacks have struggled against Dick LeBeau’s defense. For a guy entering just his fourth season with that much experience already under his belt, it’s hard not to feel proud about the past three years with Flacco at the helm, while at the same time still feeling quite optimistic that the best is still to come.
Flacco joined 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia to talk about staying busier than ever this offseason with his workout regiment, if he agrees that the NFL won’t likely start the regular season without giving teams a full training camp to prepare, why he thinks two-a-days aren’t exactly necessary but aren’t likely to disappear any time soon, whether his quick rise to NFL stardom has in any way affected his relationships with friends and family back in his native South Jersey, his thoughts on Ray Lewis’ comments about a crime spike if the lockout cuts into the 2011 season, why he thinks Lewis isn’t at all off his rocker with such sentiments, why he doesn’t feel it’s important to have big name wide receivers necessarily in order for an offense to be successful, how he hopes to make names for unknown WRs by developing a rapport with non-household name WRs, and how he’s not adverse to get in any of his teammates grill if need be despite being as mild mannered as they come.
After talking for a few minutes about his golf game, Flacco was asked if he’s had more time than ever to play:
“Not really, not really. You’ve got to stay busy and you’re working out and you’re doing your own football thing anyway. I’m working out back here in New Jersey and we’ve gotten together a couple of times as a team. But everybody’s staying busy, I know I’m staying just as busy, if not more, because you’re in an environment where you can work out for a couple hours, go home and get some lunch, go back out with a couple guys and maybe throw the ball around a little bit. You know, when you’re in your own facility and you have OTAs, you’re spending two hours to an hour and a half…you’re doing more things in the classroom I guess, but at the same time, you can make good use of this time believe it or not, and I think most guys are.”
On if he agrees that the NFL won’t likely start the regular season without giving teams a full training camp to prepare:
“I don’t think so. I mean, training camp used to be for guys coming to get in shape. We’re not getting in shape at training camp anymore. To a certain extent we’re getting back together and sweating it out together and spending some time together, but when we get to training camp now, we come in shape and ready to go. It’s not like 40 years ago, 30 years ago, 20 years ago, where you had to come get in shape at training camp.”
So you don’t really need two-a-days then:
“You don’t really need them. But some coach in the NFL is going to do them, so every coach is going to do them, and that’s just the way it goes. That’s what you do and that’s what you’re used to, so no matter how much time we get with training camp, I’m sure they’re going to give us enough time to get ready for the year so that we can go in there and not worry about injuries and things like that.”
On if his quick rise to NFL stardom has affected his relationships with the people he has been close to his whole life growing up in South Jersey:
“No, not really honestly. They ask questions like ‘how’s this thing going, how’s that going? Do you know what’s going on with the lockout?’ That’s a question you get all the time now. But when I’m at home, it’s the same old. When you go out and are hanging out with friends, and you see people from high school or whoever, pretty much everybody’s doing the same thing — they’re catching up if they haven’t seen each other for awhile, and if you’re friendly or were friends growing up, what’s different about it? It’s pretty normal for everybody around us.”
What he thinks of Ray Lewis’ recent comments about a crime spike if the lockout cuts into the 2011 season:
“Listen, Ray’s a great guy to play with. Ever since I’ve been there, his leadership…I mean, he’s really calm during the week and he turns it on on Sunday and he’s ready to go; he comes prepared every week and things like that. I hear what he’s saying. I mean from the standpoint of if we don’t play football, the cities are definitely going to struggle in some sense. Economically, whatever it’s going to be — I think each individual city is going to struggle and hurt from it. Honestly, all the owners can probably go a year without playing football; most of the players could probably afford economically a year without football and get by; but the cities, they’re going to get hurt from this thing if we don’t play football. So I hear where he’s coming from and I wouldn’t say he’s wrong. I definitely think he has a point. Ray likes to take things a little far, and he’s very passionate about what he’s talking about, but I don’t think he’s not making sense when he says that stuff.”
On how important he feels it is to have big-name, establish play makers at the wide receiver position:
“Well it’s important to have good receivers; it doesn’t mean it needs to be guys that are known and have done it before. But if you have guys that you can go out there and know you can trust, hopefully you can build up a couple names. We have those guys now that have played well in other places, but at the same time, you want to develop your own guys and develop a rapport with those guys. I think the biggest thing like I said is having guys that play consistent whether they’re known or they’re unknown, and I really think we’re developing that kind of chemistry in Baltimore. At the same time, you have to put it on our shoulders and let those guys play, and you’ve got to let our backs play. We have to do all those things, and I really think we’re working towards that. We need to get better as an offense and that’s going to be part of it.”
If a mild mannered guy like himself ever gets into a WR’s grill in the huddle:
“Very little. Me and Derrick got into a little incident on the sidelines during one of the games this year. It is what it is. It doesn’t usually happen with our guys, but if it has to, I’m not a guy who won’t do it.”