If there is one good thing to come out of Joe Flacco beginning the season as the Ravens starting quarterback it is this -- he will get more practice reps with the first-string offense.
And frankly, that's about it.
From the beginning, I have believed that throwing Flacco into the mayhem of an NFL regular-season game would not be a particularly good thing. I still don't. A number of readers have written to say that the best experience is on-the-job training. Yeah, maybe, if you're not getting your brains beat in by guys whose salary depends on separating you from your senses.
Sun writer Mike Preston did an excellent job today of enumerating rookie QBs who survived ugly first-year experiences (Peyton Manning, Troy Aikman) and those who did not (Tim Couch, David Carr). Some will argue that Couch and Carr would have failed anyway. Maybe, but how do you disprove that? You can't un-ring the bell once a guy's own bell has been rung so many times that he's nearly shattered. Jim Plunkett is an interesting and rare case study of a high-draft pick QB who was apparently ruined when he was rushed as a starter with New England, but was somehow rescued two stops down the career road in Oakland. Yeah, Plunkett learned the hard way and still became a Super Bowl winner -- but for some other team. Is that what anyone who roots for Baltimore wants for Flacco?
Right now, here's the best-case scenario from a Ravens fan's point of view: that the kid from Delaware survives to become the NFL quarterback that the Ravens believed he could be when they picked him. He has shown a lot of promise. He's ultra smart and eminently coachable; he makes steady, incremental improvement; he has a big-time arm. But fans should forget about wins and losses if he has to play. And especially forget about wins and losses if the guy taking snaps is someone like Todd Bouman or Joey Harrington, either of whom may or may not be the new emergency backup. No disrespect to those players, but if a guy can really come off the street or out of someone else's camp and be even half-competent at running an NFL offense with a week or so of hurried preparation, then teams are wasting a heck of a lot of time with all those minicamps.