When training camp started last season, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was friendly and happy. He joked with teammates more than usual and was more animated and vocal. At that time, a lot of us thought his leadership was emerging because the Ravens had lost linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed.
And then Flacco went on to throw a career-high 22 interceptions in one of his worst seasons ever.
So far in minicamp, Flacco is back to the Flacco of old. He isn't joking a lot and appears to be more standoffish. As usual, Flacco practices hard, and I think he is just getting used to this offense and a new coordinator in Gary Kubiak.
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Under the old regime, former Ravens assistants like Cam Cameron, Jim Zorn and Jim Caldwell would baby Flacco. Flacco has never done well with criticism, so the coaching staff had to be fragile with his ego.
From what I hear, Kubiak isn't going to cater to Flacco. He is old school and emphasizes fundamentals, which Flacco needs if he is ever going to reach the next level. Kubiak is as much of a stickler on fundamentals as he is in learning the playbook. He constantly works on foot work, drop backs and securing the ball -- all areas in which Flacco definitely needs to improve. Flacco's mechanics have been decent, but also sloppy at times.
Kubiak has the background (and Super Bowl rings) to back that he knows what he is doing. He has a strong presence and demeanor about him that shows he isn't going to accept being average. I suspect there will be plenty of times that Flacco and Kubiak bump heads, especially early in the season when they are trying to work all of the bugs out of the offense.
But if Flacco is smart, he'll listen and learn. Kubiak could take his game to another level.