It's said that the toughest position in football is the quarterback's mother.  Sympathies to Mrs. Flacco.  Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is the subject of seemingly unending criticism .  He's inconsistent, the defense is responsible for his winning record, he'll never get the Ravens to a Super Bowl.  National and local media and fans have questioned Flacco's ability to lead and to succeed. 

Flacco has never been given a free pass, but going into his fifth year as starting quarterback, both doubts and expectations are at a high point. Flacco has not met the expectations.  Statistically speaking, the quarterback regressed last year while fans and media were clamoring for exponential progress.  Practically speaking, Flacco was the quarterback for a 2011 team that remained undefeated at home, undefeated in their division, and was one dropped pass from playing in the Super Bowl.

Somewhere in between Flacco's encouraging moments and his frustrating moments lies a perfectly balanced truth: he's good.  But will he be great?

According to coaches, players, and both local and national media pundits, his performance in training camp suggests he will be. While it is foolish to make predictions before so much as a single preseason game has been played, even those once critical of the quarterback are now singing his praises.

Word around camp is that Flacco appears to be sharper in every aspect of his game. He has better form, a better release, is more decisive, and is taking control of the offense. These training camp observations may not hold true for the regular season, but they are a good sign for a quarterback entering the last year of his contract—and for Ravens fans.

Owner Steve Bisciotti says Flacco looks calmer, and wide receiver Torrey Smith announced to the press that he is “on the Joe Flacco bandwagon.” reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala visited Owings Mills to report on the Ravens training camp. Her article was entitled “Baltimore Ravens Training Camp: Joe Flacco leads sharp offense.” The Baltimore Sun posted a video on their website with the description: “A different Joe Flacco at training camp.”

Perhaps the most important indication of Flacco's performance thus far comes from his teammates, who speak of him in confident terms. Newly acquired receiver Jacoby Jones went so far as to say that Flacco is “like the quarterback I made in Madden.” Anyone who knows anything about the video game knows that Jones' feels pretty darn confident in his quarterback.

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