Joe Flacco struggling against blitz

Although the Ravens claimed their first win, Joe Flacco posted one of the worst grades of his career.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Don Wright)

(AP Photo/Don Wright)

Joe Flacco struggling against blitz

Even though Joe Flacco and the Ravens claimed their first victory of season, the Baltimore quarterback had one of the worst nights of his career.

One of the reasons Pittsburgh was so successful against Flacco was, more often than not, they blitzed him. There were 24 times in the game where a defensive back from Pittsburgh rushed the quarterback, and at times, more than one went after Flacco on the same play. This led to three of the Steelers’ sacks. When Flacco did get a pass off, he had an NFL passer rating of 44.5. When the Steelers didn’t blitz, Flacco had an NFL passer rating of 105.2—if anything, Pittsburgh didn’t blitz enough.

It was unusual for the Ravens to face a blitz on so many plays, but this season, it has become common for Flacco’s play to deteriorate when the defense sends unexpected pass rushers. Flacco has a PFF grade of +0.6 when not blitzed, and -10.1 when blitzed. He’s completed just 44.9 percent of his passes when blitzed, and has 5.0 yards per attempt on such plays—both third-lowest in the league. He’s either been sacked or thrown an interception on 13.7 percent of his dropbacks, eighth-most among starters. The Steelers weren’t the first team to find success blitzing Flacco this season; they were just the first team to try it on over 50 percent of his dropbacks.

This is especially odd, since Flacco thrived when blitzed in 2014. His PFF Grade was +11.8 when blitzed, and -2.5 when not blitzed. His NFL passer rating and touchdown-to-interception ratio were all nearly identical, regardless of whether Flacco was blitzed or not.

It wouldn’t be surprising if more teams follow the Steelers’ lead and make Flacco face a blitz. Six of the next seven teams on the Ravens’ schedule are teams that are in the top half of the league in how often they blitz. In order for Baltimore to put themselves back into playoff contention, they will need to figure out a way to manage the blitz—for Flacco’s sake, at least.

| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

  • The Mysteries of Bob

    But he’s elite because he defeats Matt Cassel, Kerry Collins and TJ Yates in the playoffs with the help from the defense.

    • Lord Father

      he also defeated peyton manning, to brady and sf( no 1 D in 2012) to win a super bowl. See anyone can pull out stats to fit their case…

      • Get over it

        manning sucks in the playoffs, brady was missing half of his targets

  • Aaron Bloch

    It’s Trestmans offense! He doesn’t have anywhere to go with the ball!

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  • crosseyedlemon

    There probably hasn’t been a time in his career when it hasn’t been a struggle for Flacco but give the guy credit for being a survivor in a league that can be brutally tough on QBs. Flacco reminds me of Jim Hart who played for the Cardinals many years ago. Neither of them was ever considered a superstar (Hart played 18 season and was in 4 pro bowls) but they always managed to hold on to job as a starter even when critics suggested they should be replaced.

    • Vitor

      Nobody in Baltimore wants to replace Flacco. We knew what “struggle” really means when we picked Kyle Boller.

      • crosseyedlemon

        I guess Flacco is an easy target for some folks because he often wins ugly….but I’ll take a guy who wins ugly over a guy who loses pretty anytime.

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  • OH Ravensfan

    Again, this is on Trestman and his antiquated plays. When you don’t have downfield speed, you must use creative slant crosses with your big receivers creating screens for each other. Study Brady’s offense from the last several years. It just takes scheme and familiarizing your receivers with their slant patterns..