Now Hall-of-famer doesn't seek more attention, but enjoys it
In his role as an ESPN analyst, Ray Lewis has not been reluctant to speak bluntly about the Ravens. Sunday morning's target was quarterback Joe Flacco, who is having his worst season statistically, already with a career-high 13 interceptions. According to Lewis, Flacco is not playing that much differently, but he lacks the supporting cast to overcome his mistakes.
"When I was playing with Joe Flacco, Joe Flacco was making these same mistakes back then, but our defense always found a way to bail him out," Lewis said Sundaymorning on ESPN.
Lewis mentioned multiple issues that have hurt Flacco - issues on the offensive line, the lack of a consistent running game, and the departure of Anquan Boldin. However, Lews also refered to the six-year, $120.6 contract that Flacco signed during the offseason after being named Super Bowl MVP. Lewis said paying Flacco that kind of money does not make him capable of handling the weight that Peyton Manning and Tom Brady carry. Lewis does not believe the Ravens can be successful unless their offense has more balance.
"They want to make Joe Flacco – and they gave him one hundred million dollars, and I understand that – they want to make Joe Flacco a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning and he's not that type of guy," Lewis said. "He's a system type of guy, that if you have the balance that you have running the ball, doing the things you need to do, then Joe Flacco excels."
Flacco generally brushes off criticism well, and it has come his way often during his career. On Wednesday, coach John Harbaugh defended Flacco, despite his interceptions and the Ravens' 4-6 record.
"I will tell you this about Joe Flacco," Harbaugh said. "Joe is a great quarterback. Joe is our quarterback, he's my quarterback. Does anybody have any doubt about that at this point? I know we don't. Joe has played great football, and Joe is going to continue to play great football - even better. Look at the plays he's made scrambling around, making throws and things like that."
However, Lewis does not sound convinced that Flacco can lead the Ravens back to the playoffs this season. Flacco and the Ravens have six games left to prove otherwise.