Protecting Flacco primary concern for Ravens

Protecting Flacco primary concern for Ravens
November 16, 2013, 11:00 am
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4 Downs: Chicago Bears

Now in his sixth NFL season, Joe Flacco has yet to miss a start. That durability is one of his strengths as a quarterback, one of the reasons the Ravens have made the playoffs the past five seasons.

Injuries have forced many NFL teams to turn to their backup quarterback. Josh McCown will lead the Bears against the Ravens on Sunday, as injured Jay Cutler (ankle sprain) watches from the Chicago sideline. McCown has played well subbing for Cutler this season, but the Bears didn’t plan on McCown starting pivotal games in November. Now with Cutler injured and McCown playing well in coach Marc Trestman's system, more people are asking whether the Bears should reconsider signing Cutler to a salary-cap eating deal when his contract expires after the season.

[RELATED: Previewing Sunday's Ravens-Bears game]

Flacco already has his huge long-term deal, but this year has been a struggle for him with 12 TD passes, 11 interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 77.3. He has been hit often this season, much more than last season when the Ravens won the Super Bowl. Teams are blitzing the Ravens more, knowing they have offensive line issues, knowing they don’t run the football well, and knowing Flacco misses some of last season’s favorite targets like Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta.

Fortunately for Flacco, he has been able to escape some hits by moving outside the pocket. And when Flacco has gotten hit, he has always gotten back up.

Give Flacco credit for being tough and resilient. But having been sacked 30 times already this year, Flacco is on pace to be sacked more than ever. That’s a trend the Ravens would like to stop, starting Sunday in Chicago, where Flacco will be trying to avoid Julius Peppers and the other Bears' pass rushers. The Bears, like many teams, have seen their starting quarterback go down. The Ravens are not trying to join that club.