Flacco went deep often in 2010, but throws had mixed results

Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was criticized by some fans and media last season for not letting quarterback Joe Flacco take more chances. But despite a lack of elite speed at the wide receiver position, Flacco attempted 86 passes of 20-plus yards, according to a study by Pro Football Focus.

Only Peyton Manning threw deep more often.


The author of the Pro Football Focus post, Khaled Elsayed, broke down every throw by NFL quarterbacks in 2010. Indianapolis' Manning led the league with 95 deep attempts. Flacco tied Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers for second in that category, but Rodgers completed seven more of his deep attempts than Flacco.

Flacco completed just 30 percent of his deep attempts -- 26 out of 86 -- which placed him 23rd among the 31 quarterbacks who attempted at least 30 throws of 20 or more yards.


Can that be attributed to the Ravens receivers' inability to get separation on long throws (and Cameron's reluctance to use Donte' Stallworth)? Or does Flacco, who is blessed with one of the NFL's strongest arms, need to improve his deep accuracy?

To be fair, it's probably both.

Elsayed pointed out that Flacco didn't have a real deep threat to work with and wrote that "the Ravens' barrage of long balls really put the spotlight on the problems with their deep passing attack." At least Flacco tied for the NFL lead with 12 touchdowns of 20 or more yards and threw just five deep interceptions.

The good news is that this will be an area that Flacco can improve upon next season, his fourth in the NFL. The Ravens drafted fleet-footed Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith to stretch the field and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, one of team's three veteran possession receivers, appears to be on his way out of Baltimore.

If Flacco and the Ravens can be more efficient in the deep passing game, those tight windows over the middle for Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason will open up. So will running lanes for Ray Rice. After the offense was a disappointment in 2010, it's pretty clear why the Ravens feel the need for speed this offseason.