If you got Sunday’s paper delivered to your doorstep or you checked our website over the weekend, hopefully you read my story on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and why he has one of the NFL’s strongest arms.
I spoke with some insightful men for the story. ESPN’s Ron Jaworski, who invited Flacco to play in his celebrity golf tournament this offseason, said that people don’t realize how much a “complete set of mechanics” help Flacco fire the football down the field. John Brenkus, the host of ESPN’s “Sports Science” shows and segments, explained how Flacco’s height could actually be a detriment for him, but sound technique has made it an asset.
I also chatted with former Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who was a lightning rod in the final two years of his tenure but who also deserves credit -- and that Super Bowl ring -- for his tutelage of a young Flacco. Cameron deflected praise, though, and was very complimentary of Flacco in our phone interview last month. He said a couple of interesting things that I unfortunately had to leave out of the story due to space constraints.
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Cameron came away very impressed with Flacco after the Ravens worked him out at Delaware in 2008. He said that in the 90-minute workout Flacco missed on just one throw -- a pass behind a wide receiver running a comeback route -- and that he threw a 73-yard pass with his feet parallel. Only one quarterback has ever impressed him more at a workout, and that was Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, whom Cameron and the San Diego Chargers worked out before the 2004 draft (they drafted Philip Rivers, though).
Cameron said that after the Ravens drafted Flacco in the first round in 2008, they hardly had to tweak his throwing motion.
“Joe was very well schooled on how to throw the football. He came in with great mechanics. He came in with natural arm strength and endurance,” Cameron said. “But I would say to give the credit to Joe himself. Joe knows what he is doing when it comes to his arm. I’ve never seen him ice his arm. I never saw it sore. I’ve seen him tired maybe once.”
In March 2010, the Ravens took Flacco to Southern California to meet with Tom House. The former MLB pitcher is now a pitching guru who also works with NFL quarterbacks, most notably New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Cameron said that Flacco was the second to meet with House. The first was Drew Brees, whom Cameron has also coached.
“But Joe doesn’t really need to go to anyone,” said Cameron, who is in his first season as offensive coordinator at LSU. “He’s got it figured out, what he’s doing and how he does it.”
During the weeklong visit, House did an analysis of Flacco’s throwing motion and at the time told Cameron that the results ranked second to only Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.
“So not a lot needed to be done with Joe,” Cameron said. “All he needed to do is work on more knee flexion. That’s the only thing he needed. I thought Jim Caldwell really did a great job to get Joe more knee flexion. I thought that really paid off for him.”
Whatever Flacco was doing, particularly in January and February, obviously worked. Flacco threw 11 touchdown passes in four postseason games and was named the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. He averaged 9.05 yards per completion and five of his touchdown passes traveled 20 or more yards.
Some of that is God-given arm talent, as Jaworski suggested, but pretty much everyone I spoke with -- including Cameron -- pointed to Flacco’s refined fundamentals as the other significant factor.