Fiery Flacco is a welcome sight

July 27, 2011|Kevin Cowherd

Here's how different the first day of Ravens training camp was Wednesday: Joe Flacco went off on his critics.

Well, sort of.

Look, I love the big guy. But normally, Flacco at the microphone is the verbal equivalent of anesthesia.

Usually, the Ravens quarterback is wary, reserved and modest to a fault.

Usually he loathes any question that has to do with self-introspection or, God forbid, feelings.

Usually he's kind of — oh, what's the word I'm looking for here? — dull.

But not this time.

Wednesday it was a different Joe Flacco who addressed the media. He seemed confident and relaxed and spoke about everything from his recent wedding, to the potential loss of teammates Derrick Mason and Todd Heap, to the off-season criticism he took from the talk-show haters in Baltimore and various NFL loud-mouths such as LaMarr Woodley of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dhani Jones of the Cincinnati Bengals.

It was the best Flacco's been in a news conference — too bad I had to cut out early and missed it live. But watching it on video, I came away with one over-riding thought: This is what Ravens fans want to see from their quarterback.

This was a Joe Flacco with fire in his belly.

This was a Flacco proclaiming himself to be "pretty damn good," a Flacco sticking it to all the doubters who say he can't handle pressure, can't lead the Ravens to the Super Bowl, can't be effective outside the pocket, can't throw into tight coverages, can't do this, can't do that.

"What motivates me is being the best quarterback in the world," he said. "I don't play this game to be average. I play this game to be the best and it doesn't matter what other people say.

"I think I'm pretty damn good and I don't need to tell everybody that and show it on every given day and on every play every Sunday and do all that stuff. I go out there and I play. You can think what you want about me. The bottom line is I'm still going to think the way I think about myself no matter what you say.

"I would like some more people to think good about me. But if they never do, they never do. As long as this organization, my teammates and myself can feel pretty good about how I'm playing."


Believe me, for Flacco, that qualifies as a major rant. That's like the Comet Kohoutek — we may never see it again in our lifetime.

On and on he went, Joe Flacco as we've never seen him before, facing a new season and a new type of training camp we've never seen before.

He talked about taking a leadership role, along with Ray Rice, to help the younger players on offense.

He talked about wanting to be in control of the offense and wanting everyone on the Ravens to be accountable, especially himself.

"I want to be put in a position to lose football games," he said. "I want it to be on me. If we lose football games, I want you to be able to look directly at me and say: 'Why did we lose this game?' and I should have a pretty good answer for you.

"In order to do that, you have to have trust in me, and I think we're there. We just have to go out there and put it all forward and do what we need to do to get to that next step — to get past the hump and win these really big football games."

Look, I'm not saying Flacco broke any new oratorical ground with his remarks.

But if all that isn't what you want to hear from your quarterback, I don't know what is.

If that isn't a quarterback who seems supremely comfortable with his role on this team, then a lot of us are totally misreading this guy.

Ultimately, Flacco knows he'll be judged most on whether he can take the Ravens to the Super Bowl — not just deep into the playoffs.

And if he does, all the criticism will melt away like an early-spring snowfall

"The bottom line is, you've got to win the big game — that's the Super Bowl," he said. "The world we live in today, there's usually one good quarterback at the end of the year and 31 other not-good ones. That's just the way it is. That's not reality, it's just the way it is.

"My goal is to be that one good one at the end of the year, and my goal as a team is for us to be that one good team at the end of the year."

Not a bad way for your quarterback to start the season, Ravens fans.

Not a bad way at all.

(Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays at 7:20 p.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "Norris and Davis Show.")

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