OWINGS MILLS - Joe Flacco is a Super Bowl MVP, one of the highest paid players in NFL history and a quarterback who is coming off the best stretch of his career.
And, at least based on what Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said Friday, Flacco, still just 28 years old, appears poised to possibly take his game to an even higher level this season.
"He's getting better all the time," Caldwell said after Baltimore's organized team activity practice Friday. "That's the nice thing about it. We have a chance to see him develop and grow. He's getting better each and every day. Every single day he gets a little bit better. That's exciting."
The primary knock on Flacco the last two years in particular has been his erratic play during the regular season.
He has been successful in the playoffs, and had been even before Baltimore's Super Bowl run last year. But while he has had some great moments during the regular season as well, he has also been largely inconsistent.
"We've all seen great strides and really [Flacco] playing his best football at playoff time," former Pro Bowl and current NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner told the Times during the week leading up to the Super Bowl in February. "Now the only question is whether he can take that and parlay that into the rest of his career, regular season and playoffs. ... but I've seen a guy in the playoffs that has just completely upped his game."
The three main questions now: First of all, how does Flacco build on the playoff success? Secondly, how does he do after signing his $120.6 million contract earlier this offseason? And third, how much better can Flacco be with a full year under Caldwell as offensive coordinator?
Caldwell replaced Cam Cameron as the Ravens' offensive coordinator in December.
After being limited to 188 yards or less in six of his final nine games under Cameron, Flacco threw for an average of 290 yards per game in the last five full games that he played under Caldwell. He threw 13 touchdown passes without an interception in those five games.
Eleven of the 13 touchdown passes came during the playoffs, including three along with 287 yards during the Super Bowl. The 11 touchdown passes during the playoffs tied a postseason record.
And while Flacco did struggle some during the regular season, he did finish the regular season with a career-best 3,817 yards to go with 22 touchdown passes and just 10 interceptions.
The Ravens do have to replace last year's leading receiver Anquan Boldin, but Baltimore does still have one of the league's top deep threats in Torrey Smith, another deep threat in Jacoby Jones, two proven weapons at tight end in Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson and several young receivers that the team feels have the potential to step into expanded roles this season.
"I'm not real sure how defenses will look at us," Caldwell said Friday. "I know one thing. They will look at us and see that we have some guys that can still get down the field and go. That can certainly give you some problems in a number of different ways. I think they look at every guy according to his strengths.
"Our guys with their strengths: They do have speed, they can get across the field, they can get down the field [and] they can catch and run. ... I'm not quite certain how they will look at us. But what I do know is the fact that we do have quite a few threats and quite a few people that they will probably be concerned with."
Flacco, of course, is regarded as one of the best deep ball throwers in the NFL.
"What I think is a great benefit is when you do have a guy with a strong arm and you have guys that can really run," Caldwell said. "We have a couple of guys that can really stretch the field. Often times you may find guys that can stretch the field, but guys can't get it to them consistently. Joe can."