BALTIMORE — Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is easily Baltimore’s most important player. That is usually the case for teams that are fortunate enough to have a franchise quarterback.
Flacco went down with a knee injury last season. The Ravens season went down with that injury.
The veteran quarterback returned this season wearing a bulky knee brace and while it has provided support and stabilized Flacco’s knee, it also hinders his attempts to slide to protect himself.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh addressed Flacco’s slide attempts recently.
“I just want to see him not drive his brace into the ground,” Harbaugh said at his press conference on Monday, November 28, 2016. “It’s how he’s always slid. He’s always slid that way with, what he would describe as a pop-up slide, but it’s not working with the knee brace. I see the same thing that everybody else sees, and he knows it.”
Flacco’s deceptive athleticism shows when he can tuck the ball and run for a first down. If a defender is closing in on him, Flacco will slide to protect himself. However, not using the proper sliding technique is something that has plagued many quarterbacks in the past.
Flacco played baseball in high school and wants to slide the way he was taught at an early age.
Harbaugh does not agree with Flacco’s method, and the fiery head coach had no problem making his opinion known in public.
“You don’t slide on your knee,” Harbaugh explained. “He and I have had that conversation. He can be mad at me now because I said it publicly, but we all played baseball. He wants to talk about a pop-up slide. Maybe that’s what he did in high school, but you can’t do a pop-up slide on a knee brace. It’s just as simple as that. You’ve got to get down there on those glutes. That’s what has to happen. It’s not the first time he’ll have heard that.”
The Ravens have five games left in the season and are currently on top of the AFC North standings. This may be the last hurrah for some players such as Steve Smith Sr. and Terrell Suggs.
Baltimore cannot afford to lose Flacco as they go down the stretch. A self-imposed injury from not sliding properly would be disastrous for the Ravens. Flacco has already had a few close calls in when his brace broke because he slid awkwardly to avoid contact.
Going forward, it is imperative that Flacco protects himself and the team. There will be times when he scrambles for yards and slides at the end of his runs. He will need to make sure he uses proper technique.