Joe Flacco is among the tallest starting quarterbacks in the NFL. The Ravens offensive line has protected him exceptionally well this season on drop-backs. And yet nearly two pass attempts per game are all but dead on arrival.
Through six games, Flacco is tied with the Minnesota Vikings’ Kirk Cousins for the most passes batted or deflected at the line of scrimmage (11) in the NFL this season, according to Pro Football Focus. No other quarterback has more than seven. New Orleans Saints star Drew Brees, a half-foot shorter than than the 6-foot-6 Flacco, has zero ahead of Sunday’s matchup in Baltimore.
“Too many,” Harbaugh said Monday of Flacco’s total. “That’s something that’s a problem, because those are opportunities. A lot of times, those guys are open, and those are chances to complete passes. That’s something that we’ve been working on the last couple of weeks. We still haven’t it cleaned up the way we want to, and we’re not happy about it. We need to clean that up.”
The work has made Flacco laugh. It has also made Flacco mad. Some batted balls, he acknowledged Wednesday, “you can’t prevent.” But for those other times, quarterbacks coach James Urban has devised an unusual drill.
Simulating a pass rusher’s wingspan, he has had Flacco throw around a “bag in his hand that goes up to 12 feet high — unrealistically high for anybody’s hands,” Flacco said, grinning. He said he gets the point. He wants to correct whatever’s wrong. But at some point, enough is enough.
“Have you ever seen the drill where Ben just doesn't dodge the balls, he just lets them bounce off of him and he hits them?” Flacco asked reporters Wednesday, referring to the viral video of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger intentionally botching a pocket-presence drill.
“I did that one time last week. I just threw the ball and I hit the bag on purpose. It's just like, 'I get your point. We got it.’ ”