Joe Flacco, Quarterback
WITH THE Ravens' off-season acquisitions at skill positions—Anquan Boldin and Donte' Stallworth at receiver, draft picks Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta at tight end—they now have the depth to be a top five scoring team. (Baltimore ranked ninth last year.) Achieving that will start with third-year quarterback Flacco, who will be asked to improve on his ascending performance in 2009.
The one thing he doesn't have to work on is his confidence. Asked in mid-August if he hoped the Jets will be without cornerback Darrelle Revis when the Ravens play New York in Week 1, Flacco shrugged. "If he plays, he plays," he said. "We're going to attack both their corners anyway."
He has been helped this off-season by two arrivals: quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn, the former coach of the Redskins, and 33-year-old backup quarterback Marc Bulger, who had big years with the Rams. They've helped by speeding up Flacco's reads and his overall game. Zorn, Flacco says, has taught him to "be compact, be explosive at all times, don't waste motion." Bulger was schooled in Mike Martz's offense in St. Louis to throw to precise spots before the receiver turned his head toward the passer. "Seeing how Marc trusts his receivers," Flacco says, "that's where I want to get with them."
Getting comfortable with a precise route runner like Boldin and a deep threat like Stallworth was Flacco's big task this summer. "He had two passes today that were [more] anticipated and quicker than any in his three years here," said offensive coordinator Cam Cameron as training camp closed. The Bulger and Zorn influences are working.