After suffering his share of criticism during the offseason, Joe Flacco is ready to prove himself on the field. But before he can do that, members of the media have one more month to share their opinions of the Ravens' fourth-year quarterback. And if perception is reality, then it seems things are looking up for Flacco.

While a bevy of players and analysts bashed Flacco during the offseason, former NFL quarterback Phil Simms was one of the first to come out in Flacco’s defense when he voiced his support for Flacco in May in an interview on 105.7 The Fan.

On Tuesday, Simms reiterated that stance in a video on SI.com.

“Joe Flacco has taken a lot of -- I guess you’d say -- heat down in Baltimore because they wonder if he’s the man to lead them,” Simms said in the video. “I’ve done a lot of Baltimore Ravens games, and in preparation for those games and watching them play, it’s never crossed my mind once that, ‘Oh, maybe Joe Flacco’s not the guy.’ [He's] big, strong, can throw with anybody in the NFL, breaks tackles. He’s an imposing, physical person out there at 6-foot-6. He’s the guy that can get it done, he just needs more help.”

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King also opined about Flacco after visiting Ravens camp last week. For King, Flacco’s main issue isn’t work ethic, as NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes speculated, but late-game play.

“In talking with Flacco and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, I think they view it simply as a maturity issue,” King said in a different video on the magazine’s website. “Play more, get more experience later in games. Cam Cameron told me flat out, ‘Joe is ready to take that next step.’ They think they’re going to be able to play better as an offense later in games, and they have to if they’re going to beat Pittsburgh.”

Simms and King seem to agree that Flacco is one notch below the league’s elite quarterbacks. And other experts concur. Flacco is ranked somewhere between the eighth and 12th best quarterback in the NFL according to Pro Football Talk, and ESPN’s new QBR stat has him 12th.

This season will be crucial for Flacco as he tries to become one of the NFL’s best signal-callers. Flacco understands this, and in his fiery season-opening press conference he acknowledged that he is ready to saddle more responsibility. Luckily for Flacco, he doesn’t have to wait long to prove himself.

If you haven’t heard, the Steelers come to town on September 11.