Flacco owns up to disappointing season

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- You can think Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco isn't worthy of his big-time contract. You can believe Flacco isn't an elite quarterback.

What you can't knock the NFL's $120.6 million quarterback for is a lack of accountability for the defending Super Bowl champions' disappointing season. It's something a quarterback down the interstate should learn from Flacco.

"Listen, we all wish we could play better and that starts with me," Flacco said Wednesday. "When you're a 4-6 football team, obviously you haven't played the way you wanted to or the way you think you could."

The statistics are as unmerciful as the pass rush has been this season. Flacco ranks 26th in completion rate (58.6 percent), and 14th in passing yards (2,469). His passer rating (75.3) is 26th in the NFL and worse than benched Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub (77.8).

But anyone who has watched a Ravens game knows Flacco isn't the Ravens' biggest problem. If you're listing reasons why the Ravens have a losing record, it starts with one of the worst running games in the league and below-average pass protection.

There have been games when it's hard to criticize Flacco's play because you have to admire him for finishing the game after taking so many hits.

This is why coach John Harbaugh was so defiant when asked how Flacco has performed this season.

"I'll tell you this about Joe Flacco -- Joe's a great quarterback. Joe is our quarterback. He is my quarterback," Harbaugh said. "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 and making throws. That's the answer to that one."

The most valid criticism is Flacco's interceptions. He's thrown a career-high 13 interceptions and there are still six games left in the season.

This is the same quarterback who didn't throw an interception in his final six games last season, a streak of 195 throws without being picked off. Now, he's averaging one every 29 passes.

"I'm a guy who does not like to throw interceptions," Flacco said. "Believe me, I don't like the fact that when you look at what we've done that I've thrown 13 interceptions. Come on, I don't like that. I was talking to my dad [about it] driving home from the facility one day, and yeah it's annoying."

Teams have converted Flacco's interceptions into 44 points, including returning two of them for touchdowns (at Miami and Chicago).

"Believe me, I'd tell you if I didn't think I was being patient or if I thought I was throwing the ball to the wrong spot or just not seeing guys," Flacco said. "I've thrown more picks than I'd like to. I've thrown more picks than I should. At the same time, I still feel like I'm playing patient football and I feel like I'm taking chances that I need to take. I've thrown more picks, I have to live with that. It's not something that I like doing."

Yes, it's clear that Flacco has to play better for the Ravens to turn around their season. But his supporting cast has to play better, too.